The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has refused to be drawn into the discussion that this year’s local government elections have the lowest turnout in a long time.
With an hour before voting stations closed, the IEC said about 8.7 million people, out of 26 million registered voters, had cast their ballots.
The figures translated to almost 30% of the total number of people registered to vote, and indications were that this election could see the lowest ever voter turnout since the advent of democracy in 1994.
However, deputy electoral officer Nomsa Masuku said it was too early to say the turnout was poor.
She said the figures continue change as the system keeps updating every moment.
“We have noted reports from our call centre regarding some registered voters who can’t find their names on the voters roll or approved MEC7 list. The commission is attending and responding to complaints as they are raised. The MEC7 list has been updated and we continue to communicate with affected voters,” said Masuku.
She said the IEC had managed to resolve many issues which were raised with them through their call centres.
Earlier in the day, there were reports of shortages of ballots papers at some voting stations around the country.
“Investigations have been conducted into the reported shortage of ballot papers in several voting districts. As pointed out earlier, there should be no shortage because the commission procured 100% of the ballots needed," Masuku said, adding:
She also said all the voting stations which were disrupted by the unrest in the Eastern Cape and the protests in KwaZulu-Natal were opened and voting proceeded smoothly thereafter.
Commissioner Mosotho Moepya said the numbers must not be construed as the lowest because the voting started on Saturday and Sunday and those numbers would also be added to the final tally.
“The figures we are giving you now is for today. You must remember that there are more than 400 000 votes received from special votes and the figures is still going to be included into the total figures.
“We also have the home visits figures which are also not included,” he said.
In other voting stations, people complained about the Voting Management Device.
But IEC senior manager Grandville Abrahams defended the device saying it was effective.
He said reports that the device was ineffective as some were offline were false because it was designed to work even in offline mode.
“I don’t know where that notion comes from because the device also works in offline mode,” he said.
Abrahams said they used the zip-zip machine in some voting stations just to assist with queue managing. However, City Press did witness voting stations where voting was temporarily halted because of dysfunctional voting management devices.