Fri. Jul 19th, 2019

2019 elections special vote: Disruptions and uncertainty on the final day

voting stations open and close 2019 electionsThe IEC says it’s prepared for the big day. Here is how things panned out on the last day of the special vote process…

2019 elections special vote disruptions and uncertainty on the final day 1024x853 - 2019 elections special vote: Disruptions and uncertainty on the final day

2019 elections voting station hours 1200x1000 - 2019 elections special vote: Disruptions and uncertainty on the final day

At the close of the final day of the 2019 general elections special vote, the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has indicated that it has everything in place for a smooth Election Day.

However, arriving at this conclusion did not come without challenges. The second and last day of South Africans who were granted the opportunity to cast their ballot a day or two before the rest of the country saw some interruptions from areas regarded as hotspot zones by the electoral body.

2019 elections special vote: Where did the disruptions occur?

North West

In Ganyesa, a small town in North West, at least six people have been arrested for their involvement in the torching of a presiding electoral officer’s car. This intimidation tactic was executed by disgruntled residents who have vowed to render the general elections ungovernable.

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National police commissioner, General Khehla Sitole revealed, in an interview with Radio 702, that the officials were intercepted while travelling in the province, carrying empty ballot boxes.

Potchefstroom

In Ikageng, a settlement in Potchefstroom, a ballot box with voting papers was seized and destroyed by protesters.

However, it was noted that these papers had not been used yet and that the affected voting stations were supplemented with more ballot papers.

Ekurhuleni IEC official fired

Moreover, the electoral commission was forced to fire an official who was captured on video, receiving assistance from a party agent in the transfer of special votes.

“The video, which went viral yesterday, showed a party agent helping to transfer special votes in their double envelopes from a ballot bag used during home visits to a ballot box in the voting station,” the commission confirmed.

According to the IEC, this method of transferring the votes is normal. The part that is prohibited is the party agent’s direct involvement in the handling of votes.

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“The handling of any electoral material by any party agent is strictly prohibited. They are only allowed to observe operations and raise objections,” the commission explained.

It was also reported that the double envelope system, where ballots are placed in two enclosures to ensure their safety, was not used during the collection of special votes. Other ballot papers were also not stamped before they were used to record votes.

“These incidents were also reported to the Party Liaison Committee this morning which has made recommendations to the Commission on these cases – including to accept the ballots where their legitimacy can be verified,” the IEC said.

It is at the electoral body’s discretion whether these votes will be included in the tally or not.

IEC confirms it is ready to host elections

The commission and other volunteers that are participating in the coordination of the election process would have learned valuable lessons from the past two days’ events.

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General Sitole’s last message to South Africans was more of a warning to those who have plans to disrupt proceedings on 8 May.

“Any person who is trying to create a situation in which our community should feel threatened during the election will be taken behind bars,” he warned.

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