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2024 ELECTIONS

IEC reports minimal disruptions on first day of special voting

IEC reports minimal disruptions on first day of special voting
An IEC official marks Emma Dumisa Phiri’s finger during the special vote in Tembisa Johannesburg on 27 May 2024.(Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

The IEC experienced minimal disruptions on the first day of special voting on Monday, with 1.6 million people across the country approved to cast special votes over two days.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said it was happy with the turnout on the first day of special voting on Monday, with an estimated 201,794 people visiting voting stations across the country to cast their ballots by 2pm.

A special vote allows a registered voter who can’t vote at their voting station on election day to cast their ballot on a predetermined day before the main polls open.

For the 2024 national and provincial elections, special voting will take place on 27 and 28 May from 9am to 5pm. (Voting stations on Wednesday will be open from 7am to 9pm.)

There are 1,668,076 approved special votes for the 2024 elections. Of those, 624,593 voters have been approved to cast their ballots at home. Over 62,000 IEC officials, as well as political party agents and observers, will be conducting home visits on Monday and Tuesday.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections 2024

Western Cape

In the Western Cape, 137,558 people applied to cast their ballots by special vote.

Voting stations visited by Daily Maverick around Cape Town were not busy on Monday, with only a handful of people casting their ballots.

An IEC official assists Emma Dumisa Phiri to cast her special vote in Tembisa Johannesburg on 27 May 2024.(Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

IEC officials arrive at the home of an elderly special voter in Tembisa Johannesburg on 27 May 2024.(Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

For Loyiso Ngadlela in Khayelitsha, voting on Monday was a reminder of the power people have to elect a government of their choice. 

“I wish everyone could use this opportunity to vote for change,” he said.

“We should not take for granted voting rights. People paid with their lives for us to have these rights and we must not be scared to remove politicians who do not work for us.” 

It was Nokubonga Gladile’s first time as a special voter and she told Daily Maverick that the use of two envelopes, one of which included her details, was confusing. Gladile was not the only one confused about the envelopes, as Daily Maverick observed other voters discussing it. 

“I was given three ballots, which, after I voted, I put inside an unmarked envelope. I was then requested to put the envelope with ballots into an envelope with my name on it.” 

The 78-year-old said she was worried that her vote would not be secret as the envelope had her details.

“The presiding officer explained that it was for tracking purposes, but that did not sit well with me. I am not used to voting before election day.” 

The IEC explained that the double envelope system for special votes was to ensure the IEC could verify that the voter was registered for special voting before discarding the envelope bearing the personal information.

After the voting process, the ballots, in their double envelopes, will be transported to local storage sites for safekeeping until they are reintroduced at voting stations on 29 May for counting.” 

Eastern Cape protests

The IEC said they were able to open the majority of voting stations in the Eastern Cape despite protests unrelated to the elections. Of the 435 voting stations which experienced problems in the morning on Monday, 107 remained closed due to the protests. 

Following claims that the police had disarmed one faction in a deadly taxi war this weekend, roads leading into and out of Mthatha in the Eastern Cape were blocked off completely on Monday morning. Gunshots were heard inside the town. 

“The Commission continues to work with stakeholders to have them open on Tuesday. All special votes collected are stored securely overnight on 27 and 28 May and will be transported to voting stations to be opened, reconciled and added to the ordinary ballots cast on 29 May before counting begins.”

Limpopo

It was calm at the Juju Valley informal settlement in Seshego, Polokwane, on Monday. Last week, violence between ANC and EFF supporters broke out in the area during the electioneering campaign.

A 25-year-old man and a nine-year-old girl were injured by gunfire during the violence between the two parties’ supporters. The girl, who was shot in the head, is still in hospital in a stable condition while the 25-year-old man was treated and discharged. The girl’s parents say she is still in the ICU and a bullet is still inside her head but she is out of coma.

Meanwhile, 104-year-old pensioner Rachel Ramokone from Ward 36 in Polokwane cast her special vote on Monday at Ramohobe Primary School in Moletjie-Ramongoana village with assistance from IEC officials. She was accompanied by family members. She has been voting since 1994.

104 year old Rachel Ramokone cast her vote at Moletjie-Ramongoana village in Limpopo, May 27, 2024.
(Photo: Rudzani Tshivhase)

Another voter who wanted to remain anonymous said although her vote is a secret, she voted for change.

“It’s winter and cold. We don’t have electricity. We push wheelbarrows to go to fetch water at communal taps. We are a forgotten community.”

IEC provincial electoral officer Nkaro Mateta said the first day of special voting in the province went well. Mateta said the only problem was that residents of Botlokwa blocked the N1 over issues with their traditional authority, temporarily interrupting voting as election materials could not be delivered before it was quickly resolved. DM

Additional reporting by Rudzani Tshivhase

Gallery

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