Vote counting a long, slow process - IEC official

Cape Town - Counting votes is a laborious process, Western Cape IEC official Esmond Fortuin said on Friday as the last results trickled in.

He explained that when the last voter has left, the doors are closed at the voting stations and the long haul process of counting begins.

But first, party agents gather around the table as the ballot boxes are opened and the papers are taken out one by one.

The number of ballot papers in the box is reconciled with the number of people who voted, among other administrative processes.

When the counting starts the IEC official in charge lifts the paper and shows it to the agents gathered around and announces who the vote is for.
 
The party agents lean forward to check that it is correct and the vote is recorded for that party while the agents watch.

"Now imagine doing this thousands of times until all the votes at that station are counted," said Fortuin who had not slept for 36 hours.

Secret storage facilities

"And then you must remember there are interjections in between to make sure everything is right."

This carries on until all the ballots have been counted.

Then the result is sent through to the results centre and it is captured.  

Independent auditors also do their checks. 

When the counting is all done, the votes are transported to secret secure storage facilities around the respective provinces where they are kept in locked safes.

At that point they are quarantined in case they need to be recounted or checked.  

The IEC said it had received 28 complaints for this election.

The results are traditionally announced the first Saturday after elections, but the chief electoral officer has seven days from the end of voting to declare results.

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