/ 18 May 2011

Voting hours extended in parts of Jo’burg

Voting Hours Extended In Parts Of Jo'burg

Voting hours will be extended in some parts of Johannesburg where ballot papers arrived late and high voter turnout was reported, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said on Wednesday.

“We will monitor the situation closely throughout the day, and if there are people still there at 7pm we will extend the voting hours and afford them an opportunity to cast votes,” provincial electoral officer Sy Mamabolo told reporters in Johannesburg.

High voter volumes were reported in Meadowlands and Diepkloof in Soweto, and in Eldorado Park. In some Soweto districts ballot papers arrived late.

“In an attempt to ameliorate the problem of poor management of the ballot paper, new innovations were introduced to ensure tight control of the movement of ballot papers,” he explained. “This has inadvertently created bottlenecks in some parts of Soweto, resulting in the late delivery of ballot papers.”

Technical problems were identified at some Gauteng voting polls but no major hiccups were reported.

Non-functioning “zip-zip” scanners, which read the barcodes in ID books, were reported on Johannesburg’s West Rand. This had slowed down the voting process, he said, apologising to voters.

Some scanners were withdrawn as they were not considered essential.

There had so far been no disruptions in security hotspots identified before election day. These included Zandspruit, Drieziek and Diepsloot in Johannesburg, Barcelona in Ekurhuleni, and Sekampaneng in Tshwane.

“The voting process is proceeding normally. Security agencies are closely monitoring the situation.”

Most Gauteng voting stations opened at 7am. This year for the first time the commission had seen a higher voter turnout during the morning.

“Generally voting peaks in the afternoon, but today people went to the stations early. As early as 5am queues had started building up, especially in the townships.”

The good turnout showed South Africans wanted to be part of the democratic voting process.

“On account of this enthusiasm and the general atmosphere … we will register at least a marginal increase in voter turnout,” he predicted.

The commission was “thrilled” that voting was running smoothly.

Mamabolo said special votes, which concluded on Tuesday evening, went smoothly and 18 984 votes were cast in the province. Some were at voting stations and others on home visits.

“These numbers will still be verified. The special voting process proceeded well, with voters demonstrating enthusiasm. In many of the homes and old age homes we visited, we found that the elderly, the infirm and sick, were eager to be given ballots.”

Once voting ended at 7pm, the stations would become counting centres.

“Sorting, verification and counting procedures will then be immediately effected. Party agents will observe the counting process and will have to sign a result slip as an affirmation that the count allocated to their party is correct.”

The presiding officer would then announce the preliminary count and the result slip posted on the door of the voting station.

The ballot papers will be transported under police escort to the office of the municipal electoral officer, where the results would be “captured”.

“Once capturing is done, the result will then have to be audited. A consortium of audit firms has been procured for this.”

The commission was expected to announce the official results at a ceremony on Saturday. — Sapa

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