The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has begun applying the final logistical touches to its preparations for the country’s sixth National and Provincial Elections on 8 May.
Addressing reporters at the National Results Operation Centre (ROC) in Pretoria on Thursday, deputy IEC chairperson Janet Love said the commission expected preparations to be finalised over the weekend.
“On Monday morning, election materials will be transported from local warehouses to voting stations, ready for the first special votes to be cast from 9am to 5pm [on 6 and 7 May],” she told reporters.
For this year’s elections, the IEC has granted 774 094 special votes. These votes, dedicated to citizens who cannot cast ballots on voting day due to work commitments and old age and illness, will be cast on Monday, 6 May and Tuesday, 7 Wednesday during home visits and at voting stations.
Of these, 58.4% will be through home visits, while the remaining 41.6% special votes will be cast at voting stations.
“The materials will be escorted by South African Police Services officers and other security personnel to ensure safe delivery to voting stations,” Love said.
All special votes cast on the two days – along with all sensitive materials including ballot papers – will then be transported and stored securely overnight at secure storage locations on Monday, 6 May and Tuesday, 7 May 2019 before being transported back to the voting station on Election Day,” she said.
Materials to be transported include 60 million ballot papers, about 300 000 ballot boxes, 45 000 voting compartments, 25 000 voting station arrow signs as well as 56 255 stationery packs.
On Election Day, voting stations, staffed by 189 000 staff, are expected to open at 7am and close at 9pm for voting. Voting stations will close at 9pm on Election Day – but all voters who are in the queue to vote at 9pm will be allowed to vote.
There are on average eight election officials per voting station, which include the Presiding Officer, Deputy Presiding Officer and officials to perform the various aspects of the voting process.
Each political party is also permitted to deploy two party agents at every voting station to oversee and monitor voting and counting. Sixty-six observer organisations that have been accredited by the commission will also be deployed to voting stations around the country.
“The record number of 48 parties contesting these elections has placed additional demands and pressures on the Commission, as well as on voters. The longer ballots have placed additional financial and logistical demands on the Commission including requiring more ballot boxes, redesigned Universal Ballot Templates (UBTs), and a refined focus on balloting education,” said Love.
The Commission added that once the voting stations close, the counting of votes begins immediately at the voting station. The counting is conducted by election officials and is witnessed by party agents and observers.
“The results slip for each voting station is completed by the Presiding Officer and is signed by party agents who are also encouraged to take a photograph of the results slip to allow them to compare it to the final result captured on the results system,” she said.
“One copy of the results slip is posted on the door of the voting station while the second copy is taken back to the local IEC office where is it scanned into the results system and the results data captured through a double-capture process to reduce any human error.”
The Commission said it expected to release the final result on Saturday afternoon.