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By Itumeleng Mafisa

Digital Journalist

‘Every voter will be assisted’: IEC addresses issues experienced at voting stations

Some South Africans complained about scanners not working and IEC officials being poorly trained.

IEC Deputy Chief Electoral Officer Masego Sheburi said election day in different parts of the country got off to a rocky start, with problems experienced at many voting stations.

He said voting was help up at a number of stations because of the late delivery of materials, delayed escorts by security services or protests in certain communities.

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There were also reports of scanners not working and issues with poorly trained IEC officials.

“In most stations, queues had formed even before the stations opened. This is testament to the enthusiasm of South Africans to record their political choices,” Sheburi said.

Scanners not working at voting stations

He said election operations around the country at 12pm reported good progress with minimal incidents. 

“The Electoral Commission assures voters that adequate supplies of all materials, including more than 90 million ballot papers, are available, and every voter will be assisted to vote,” he said.

The IEC official said where there are problems with scanners, the election process will continue through the manual voting process.

“Where there were difficulties with our voter management device, instructions were issued for voting to proceed on the manual voters’ roll,” he said.

Training of IEC staff

He also said IEC staff were adequately trained over several day to ensure that they were ready for the elections,

“Presiding officers, deputy presiding officers and voters’ roll officers are trained over four days, which covers logistics, handling, electoral administration, administration of voting stations as well as counting,” he said.

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There were also complaints about long queues in some communities but Sheburi said people should be patient until they cast their votes.   

“The commission further urges voters in the queues to be patient, as traditionally, voting queues peak early as voters often seek to vote first thing during the day,” he said.

Removing ink could land you in jail

Removing the indelible ink on your thumb after voting could land you in prison for up to 10 years, said Sheburi.

Sheburi advised those that have voted not to remove the ink as this violates election rules.

“The Electoral Commission advised those who have voted not to go to the extra effort to remove the indelible ink mark on their thumbs. The indelible ink is one of several security checks and safeguards built into the election process,” he said.

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Sheburi said any attempt to undermine the integrity of the election process, including attempting to remove the ink mark “constitutes electoral fraud”.

“And is punishable by up to 10 years in jail,” he said.