Johannesburg - The Chair of the Electoral Commission (IEC) Glen Mashinini, speaking at the national electoral centre in Tshwane on Sunday night, said it was all systems go for today’s 2021 local government elections and that, despite challenges, they had ended the two day special vote successfully.
Mashinini said 80% of the special votes were cast, and they were pleased that such a large number of special votes were achieved, especially during Covid-19.
The commission was impressed with the high voter turn-out, he said.
“If you did not manage to vote over the weekend you are welcome to still vote today,” Mashinini said.
The commission urged 26.2 million eligible voters to come out to vote at their respective stations, he said. Voting will start at 7am and stations will close at 8pm.
“Voters are reminded to vote where they are registered. Voters must be in the possession of a South African ID book. Each voter in a metropolitan municipality will receive two ballots, one for the political party and the other for the metro. Each ballot paper must be stamped.Those voting in districts will receive three ballots.
“We need to remind voters that it is illegal to take photos of the ballot paper. Voting stations will be safe, police will be in place. Covid-19 protocols will be provided and PPEs will be available to prevent the spread of the virus,” Mashinini said.
“The commission will provide a pen for voters, and voters are encouraged to bring their own pens. The SA Weather Service has advised that we should expect rain across the country.
“In cases where tents are blown away or there is a disruption, the commission has to ensure contingency plans so that the tents can be erected and voting is not disrupted,” he said.
These elections had to be prepared in just 42 days, he said, and applauded all involved.
Mashinini said the commission acknowledged that registration details for about 140 000 voters had not been captured or updated before the voters roll was certified for use in this election.
“These voters will be permitted to vote as though they were in their districts on presenting proof that they had applied for registration before the proclamation of the elections,” he said.
“All preparations are in place to achieve a free, fair and safe election during Covid-19. We are confident that we have done everything to prepare for the elections,” Mashinini said.
“It is time now to work together so that the elections are free, fair and safe. Our clarion call for all South Africans is let's go out and vindicate our democratic right to vote,” Mashinini said.
Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) chief executive Sy Mamabolo said they had increased the number of electoral officers and asked police to beef up security in areas where there were disruptions (including protests and threats) over the weekend.
On Saturday night the Results Operation Centre (ROC) had to be evacuated after a power outage, with the commission confirming that this was due to an electric fault.
“We do have generators on site to prevent blackouts, we do have electricians on site and officials from the City of Tshwane and Eskom so that we can respond quickly if the need arises,” Mamabolo said.
The IEC acknowledged that some people who had registered for special votes were turned away, either being told that stations had been closed or that their data was not properly captured.
Mashinini said: “The presiding officers could not close stations early. It is an aberration if the station closed before voters cast their votes. We regret that and people who were affected can still vote today.”