IEC reluctant to speculate on claims of low voter turnout

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  • By 17:00 on Monday, only eight million people had voted.
  • Yet, the IEC didn't want to speculate about an expected low voter turn-out.
  • The voting stations that didn't open on time due to protests in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape were later opened.  

While only eight million voters had cast their ballots by 17:00 on Monday, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) was reluctant to comment on how the voter turn-out will compare with those of previous years or whether it should shoulder any of the blame for the expected low turn-out.

"Voting in the 2021 Municipal Elections is progressing across the country and over eight million South African have, as at 17:00, cast their votes at the 23 148 voting stations, including the few whose opening was delayed in the morning," IEC commissioner Nomsa Masuku said at a media briefing in the Results Operational Centre (ROC) shortly after 20:00.

There are 26.2 million registered voters. This means by 17:00 – four hours before the polls should close – not even a third of registered voters have dropped their ballots in the box.

READ | News24 analysis: 14% of registered voters turned up to vote by noon - and this figure is low

Earlier, the IEC said 20 voting stations in KwaZulu-Natal did not open on time because of community protests. Similarly, 19 couldn't open on time, where community protests included digging trenches around voting stations.

These voting stations were later opened.

Shortages of ballot papers were also reported. Masuku said:

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.

She continued: "We are happy to report that the shortages from distribution issues have been resolved and the Commission continues to monitor voting station performance in this regard."

READ | Chaos in Eastern Cape as voting data stolen from voting station, protests at 22 stations

There were several questions about the expected low voter turn-out. According to the IEC, it is still too early to do comparisons on turn-out figures.

IEC commissioner Mosotho Moepya said the IEC did not want to address the question of whether the low turn-out signifies a failure on its part and politics in general at this stage.

"At the end of the day we will be able to tell whether we have done well or we haven't," he said.

IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini said: "From where we're sitting, we would like at this stage to remain as scientific as possible."

He said it is too early for the commission to express opinions.

"Does it raise at this stage questions of dismal performance? No."

Stay updated with News24's latest coverage, opinion and analysis of Elections 2021. Check out results from the previous municipal elections.
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