With the 2016 Municipal Elections just around the corner on 3 August, the Electoral Commission (IEC) says all logistical preparations are on track.
The commission’s Chief Electoral Officer, Mosotho Moepya, briefed the media on Wednesday on preparations for the fourth democratic local government elections.
The IEC has received 741 720 applications for special votes in the 2016 Municipal Elections – more than three times the number received in 2011 and nearly twice that received in 2014.
Of the 741 720 applications received, 719 225 were approved. This includes 315 597 (44%) applications for home visits and 403 628 (56%) applications to cast a special vote at the voting station.
Special votes will be cast on 1 and 2 August. Election officials will visit the addresses provided by voters who applied for home visits at some point over these two days. They will only visit the address once. If the voter is not present, they will not be able to cast a special vote. These voters ought to be home as home visits are reserved for those largely unable to travel.
Those who applied to cast a special vote at their voting station must do so between 8am and 5pm on Monday 1 August or Tuesday 2 August. These are different from the voting hours of 7am to 7pm on Election Day.
A voter whose application for a special vote was approved but who for whatever reason was unable to cast a special vote may still cast their ballot at their voting station on Election Day.
The Electoral Commission said the increase in applications for special votes is an encouraging sign of significant voter interest in the 2016 Municipal Elections. It said this is also a reflection of the simplification and accessibility of the application process, which for the first time allowed voters to apply online and via SMS.
Over 95 000 (approximately 13%) applications were received online and over 208 000 via SMS (approximately 28%).
Special votes were available for all registered voters including disabled, infirm and pregnant voters as well as members of the security forces, election officials, the media and any other voters, who are unable to visit their voting station on Election Day 3 August 2016.
The special voting process is subject to all the same security and integrity protocols of normal voting – including scrutiny by party agents and observers – along with additional checks including a double envelope system, which allows the special votes to be reconciled against the voters’ roll and special vote application system but still protects the secrecy of the voter’s ballot.
All special votes collected are stored securely overnight on 1 and 2 August – and are then opened, reconciled and added to the ordinary ballots cast on 3 August before counting begins.
Moepya said an agreement was reached at a meeting with all parties on the steps taken by the IEC to obtain the addresses of residents, with respect with the Constitutional Court judgment on Tlokwe.
Steps to obtain addresses of voters included the opening of voting stations over two additional weekends to give registered voters a chance to provide their addresses.
The Commission also used loud hailers on the back of trucks and bakkies to promote the need for addresses.
Printing of ballot papers
Moepya said the printing of ballots for the polls is in full swing.
“We have to make sure that the correct ballot goes to the correct voting station and we are halfway through the printing process and distribution of the approximate 73 million ballot papers,” he said.
Ballot papers for the Eastern Cape, North West and KwaZulu-Natal are already completed.
“We are happy to say that we are running on schedule in many places,” Moepya said.
The IEC has to date received 12 complaints of violations to the Electoral Code of Conduct.
Of these, two have been withdrawn due to a lack of evidence, with the remaining 10 being under investigation.
Where serious violations are found, the matters will be referred to the Electoral Court. The nature of the complaints varies from allegations of intimidation and political violence, among others.
The IEC has also condemned the violence leading up to the polls. – SAnews.gov.za
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