IEC calls urgent audit into double voting claims and complaints in the interest of poll integrity

By Marianne Merten 9 May 2019
Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) is conducting an “urgent audit” to assess the extent of double voting. Reports of irregularities surfaced on Wednesday amid complaints over the so-called indelible ink actually rubbing off, and a shortage of ballot papers. The audit was announced on Thursday afternoon by IEC Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo, with the backing of Commissioner Mosotho Moepya, who maintained that each of the 6,14-million votes reflected on the tally board at the national results centre was verified and true.

The audit is an unprecedented move, and one that Daily Maverick has confirmed came after tough discussions in the political party liaison committee to ensure the integrity of the 8 May poll.

That this multi-party committee has endorsed this course of action means that whatever political posturing any party may want to take, the reality is that the integrity of the election must be the priority.

It is the second time in two days the political party liaison committee has come to the table over complaints in the 8 May voting proceedings. It also agreed all special votes would be counted, whether in the required envelopes or not and whether the ballot papers were stamped or not – as long as the number of special votes tallied with the number of special vote applications, which are kept separate.

The urgent audit Mamabolo announced will cover a statistically representative sample of voting stations, and those stations where complaints or allegations of double voting were made. The audit includes capturing information, including voters’ ID numbers, downloaded from the zip-zip scanners and the forms voters from other areas had to complete, the VEC4 four. Cross-referencing would then highlight any double voting, and if that is the case, also the potential impact of this on the integrity of the 2019 election.

Mamabolo told a briefing at the IEC national results centre the aim was “to establish scientifically” the nature and extent of double voting. “The commission at the moment can’t tell you the extent… That has to be determined through a scientific process,” said Mamabolo. “Our perspective, it’s an assurance. We will have to be assured there’s integrity in the process. Let’s all find our confidence…”

The IEC said it was confident this audit, would be completed within the seven days permitted to have the election outcome declared. South Africans should not be kept in suspense, but the election results had to maintain credibility and integrity.

Also under scrutiny will come the quality of the ink – its composition was altered, according to the IEC, with the intention to improve efficiency – with the co-operation of the supplier and the CSIR.

It is a sign the IEC is taking seriously the complaints, which have persisted. The DA has made some 600 complaints and the EFF has also been vocal.

On Thursday, however, the IEC was adamant that those results that had been declared at that time were “clean, checked, without problem”, as IEC Commissioner Mosotho Moepya put it. If there were any issues, it would be made known. “We will find ways to deal with this… Bear with us.”

The announcement came as the tally board continued to show increasing numbers. At 2 pm the ANC had 3,7-million votes, the DA,1,5-million votes and the EFF 612,626. The 2019 poll performer, the Freedom Front Plus, still stood at 4thplace on the national log with 191,725 votes, followed by the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and GOOD, the party Patricia de Lille formed after leaving the DA after a bruising political battle.

Projections at this stage by Intellidex analyst Peter Attard Montalto have the ANC nationally at 57.5%, the DA at 20.44% and the EFF at 9.27%. In Gauteng, South Africa’s economic heartland, where the opposition had talked up the ANC’s loss of power, it appears the governing party may just stay put, although down three of its 40 provincial legislature seats. This projection based on figures from voting results available at 3pm also indicate the DA down three seats to 20, but with the EFF gaining.

The IEC on Thursday afternoon said 90% of the voting stations would be declared later in the evening, but the final results would be available on Friday morning. DM


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