/ 31 May 2024

Survey finds confidence in electoral outcome has declined

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Voting in Johannesburg's outer west suburbs on 29 May, 2024. (Delwyn Verasamy, Mail & Guardian)

Fewer people were confident that their votes would be counted accurately in this week’s general elections compared with the 2019 polls. 

A survey conducted by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), in partnership with the Human Sciences Research Council, found that just 45% of the 13 155 people interviewed said they were confident that their votes would be counted accurately. This is down from 60% in 2019. 

Voters were interviewed when they went to the polls for the national and provincial elections on Wednesday. The aim of the survey was to establish their opinions and perceptions and to understand their experience of the voting process.

At voting stations in all nine provinces, fieldworkers randomly selected 50 voters for interviewing to ensure a fair representation, the IEC said in a statement on Friday. The survey had a 1% margin of error. 

The IEC said 12% of the people surveyed reported experiencing someone trying to force them to vote for a certain political party or candidate, while 9% reported that the coercion occurred before election day by either party agents or family and friends. Four percent said the coercion happened while they were queuing to vote. 

The commission said election officials were barely mentioned as a source of electoral coercion. 

The IEC said of those reporting coercion in the survey, 73% said it had no bearing on their electoral choice, while 25% said it did and 2% were uncertain. It said 3% of those surveyed had changed their vote. 

The voter satisfaction survey found that queuing time at voting stations had increased, relative to more recent elections, and this had a bearing on electoral evaluations. 

On voting day, thousands of people waited in long queues to cast their ballots, well past the 9pm mark when polling stations were supposed to close. 

The IEC said on Thursday that all of them had been given the opportunity to vote, with the last ballot being cast in the early hours of that morning.

The uMkhonto weSizwe party of Jacob Zuma has accused the IEC of denying South Africans the constitutional right to choose their government.

The party called for the IEC’s leadership to resign in a statement on Thursday, accusing the commission of focusing its energies on the “persecution and disqualification” of the former president to favour the ANC, instead of running free and fair elections