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All systems go — high special vote turnout bodes well for V-day polls, says IEC

All systems go — high special vote turnout bodes well for V-day polls, says IEC
Samson Seleka (77) casts his special vote in Roodepoort, Gauteng, on 28 May 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo)

As special voting concluded on Tuesday ahead of Election Day on Wednesday, the IEC said it wanted to surpass the voter turnout achieved during the 2019 national and provincial elections.

South Africans who applied for the special vote came out in their numbers to cast their ballots on Monday and Tuesday. With 937,144 voters processed as of Tuesday afternoon, out of 1.6 million people who registered for the special vote, the figure exceeded special votes cast in previous elections, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) announced during a media briefing on Tuesday.

IEC Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo said the high turnout during the two days of special voting boded well for turnout for the main elections on Wednesday.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections 2024

On the number of people the commission would like to see at the polls, Mamabolo said, “We obviously wish and are preparing for a huge turnout tomorrow [Wednesday, 29 May]. Now, a turnout of anything above what was achieved in 2019 would be satisfactory. But I’m sure if we hit the 70% mark, I will be due a bonus.”  

In the 2024 general elections, 66.05% of registered voters cast their ballots.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Election 2024 what-ifs and what-nows – black pens, violence and the secrecy of special votes

Violence and interference

On Monday, 107 voting stations were unable to open for special voting because of a violent taxi protest in Mthata, Eastern Cape. However, Mamabolo said that all voting stations in the area had opened on Tuesday and functioned well.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Police officers come under fire in Mthatha as taxi violence spirals out of control

Additionally, Mambolo said two suspects belonging to a political party were arrested for interfering in the electoral process in Mpumalanga. The incident involved persons aligned with a political party tampering with ballot boxes as they were being taken to a storage centre.

Mamabolo said, “As a commission, we want to be resolute to protect the credibility of the election because the South African people have been resolute and entrusted that responsibility [to us].

“The lessons and experiences over the two days of special votes were valuable and will be used to further refine operations to positively impact on voter experience for tomorrow, 29 May.” 

Home visit teams

There had been reports that several people who applied for home visits were not visited by IEC officials, but the IEC CEO said that home visit teams were on course to conclude the administering of special votes on Tuesday.

Mamabolo said 31,000 teams of two people were responsible for administering special votes at home visits over the two days.

“The process of visiting homes has not concluded. There are teams still out in the field to ensure that all those who have applied for special votes are visited. I can indicate that not all teams are back at base yet,” Mamabolo said on Tuesday evening.  

V-day loading

With the special votes concluding on Tuesday night, the IEC was moving full speed ahead with the polls. Millions of South Africans will on Wednesday, 29 May head to 23,292 voting stations nationwide to cast their ballot. 

Voting stations open at 7am and close at 9pm, but the IEC said that voters who arrived at the station where they are registered before 9pm would not be turned away.

Over the past two days, several voters have complained that they were unable to cast their ballots because the IEC system showed that they were not registered for special votes. 

Mamabolo said that voters unable to cast a special vote for whatever reason still had the opportunity to vote at the voting station where they were registered on 29 May.

The Commission called on all the remaining 26 million eligible voters to go out in their numbers and cast their votes on Wednesday.

“It is time now for all of us to work together to ensure that these elections are free, fair, safe and that the outcome reflects the will of the South African electorate,” Mamabolo said. DM


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