Special voting on track to be completed today

AUGUST 2, 2016

The Electoral Commission is on track to complete special voting through home visits and at voting stations by 17h00 today.

Despite a record number of special vote applications, elections officials reported that between 50 percent and 70 percent of home visits had been completed yesterday with the remaining visits underway from early today.

At voting stations turnout for special votes varied considerably. Some voting stations had already closed yesterday after all approved special votes had already been cast. Other voting stations reported a low turnout of voters on day one.

Voting stations where voters have been granted applications for special votes and have not yet cast them will remain open until 17h00 today. Thereafter any voters who had not been able to cast their votes may still vote at their voting stations on Election Day tomorrow.

The first two days of special voting have provided the Electoral Commission with an opportunity to fine tune its operations and to deal with any process and logistical issues.

Among the challenges encountered yesterday included isolated cases of election officials not following the correct procedure for special votes – including not using the double envelope system and three reported cases of voters who had not applied for but were granted permission to vote.

In all these instances the affected ballots have been quarantined and the Commission will, after consultation with the National Political Party Liaison Committee, determine the way forward.

In voting stations where procedures were not followed the Presiding Officers and Deputy Presiding Officers have been issued with warnings. In two cases where the behaviour of the POs and DPOs were believed to be more serious breaches – including allowing voters who had not been granted special votes to vote and failing to secure ballot boxes - they have been summarily dismissed.

The Electoral Commission is also saddened to announce the death of a Presiding Officer from a voting station in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape who died last night. He had not been on duty yesterday due to ill health. The Electoral Commission expresses its condolences to the family of Mr Thanduxolo Ndamase.

Other challenges included damage to tents from high winds. Two election officials were slightly injured when the tent used as a voting station was blown over in KwaDukuza in KwaZulu-Natal. A tent used as a voting station in Belfast, Mpumalanga was also blown over.

Heavy rains also disrupted special voting in Elliotdate in the Eastern Cape yesterday – but the weather was reported clear today and it was hoped voting would proceed.

Two tents were also burnt in an overnight apparent arson attack by disgruntled residents in Freedom Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng. These tents have been replaced today and extra security arranged.

The Electoral Commission condemns any disruptions of the election and is working closely with the SA Police Services to protect the voting process and investigate criminal acts and other violation of the Code of Conduct.

Statements made yesterday on fake news websites which claimed people had been arrested with large quantities of ballot papers already marked for a specific party are a hoax. Despite the photograph of the marked ballots clearly being a national ballot paper for the 2014 National and Provincial Elections, this destructive story spread virally and was also picked up by some media organisations.

The Electoral Commission reminds all voters and the media that it is an offence in terms of Section 69 of the Municipal Electoral Act for anyone to make intentionally false statements with the intention of disrupting or influencing an election.

A case has been opened with the SA Police Service to investigate the source of the false reports and for referral for prosecution.

The Electoral Commission advises all voters and stakeholders to be vigilant against mischievous and illegal attempts to mislead and misguide voters.