/ 30 May 2024

Ballot box lost in KwaZulu-Natal, says IEC

Voting 6325 Dv
The IEC said it did not believe the box went missing due to negligence. (Delwyn Verasamy/ Mail & Guardian)

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) tried to put a positive spin on a missing KwaZulu-Natal ballot box a day after the institution came under fire for long queues and late voting hours.

On Thursday, during its evening briefing, the IEC confirmed that it lost a ballot box from Umhlathuze Ward 14, in the Richards Bay area, while transporting it on Wednesday after counting closed.

IEC general manager Granville Abrahams said the “misfortune” of losing the ballot box was countered by the votes already having been counted and recorded at the voting station before the box was transported to the provincial operating centre. 

Abrahams said the box went missing while being transported in an open vehicle. By the time those who were transporting the box got to their destination, they discovered that it was gone. 

“The results are in for that specific [ballot box]; we are quite eager to get back that ballot box so that we can put it in storage. Those votes in the ballot box were counted and recorded in the result centre,” Abrahams said. 

He said the IEC does not believe that the box went missing because of negligence, but if that was the case, the commission would investigate further. 

“We [did] not plan to lose a single ballot box. Looking at it in context, we have just under 23 000 voting districts. In this election, we would probably have three or more ballot boxes [per voting station], so it is more than 100 000 boxes [nationally, that have not been lost],” Abrahams added.

“I am not trying to make excuses, I am talking about a single ballot box. I don’t think that under the circumstances, we would have considered that as an error given that elections are not perfect, but we plan and we strive towards that,” he said. 

Abrahams said counting would continue throughout the night and that some municipalities, particularly smaller ones, had completed counting and had packed up.  

He said that the commission expected a 58.69% voter turnout.

“We are hovering just above 60% with the biggest stations still to come, though,” he said.