Cheryl Kahla
Deputy Online News Editor
2 minute read
2 Nov 2021
4:31 am

Election results 2021: Here’s how votes are counted

Cheryl Kahla

At the time of publishing, only 7% of the votes had been counted. Here's why.

Residents cast their votes during the Nquthu by-election. Picture: Gallo Images/The Times/Thuli Dlamini

After voting stations closed at 9pm on Monday, 1 November, counting began. Election results have been trickling in, but there is still a long road ahead.

As of 5pm on Monday, approximately eight million South Africans had cast their votes in the local government elections.

Note: The article continues below the embedded elections map.

Election results 2021

At the time of publishing, only 7% of the votes had been counted.

Why only 7%? Because it’s quite the process. Here’s how it works.

How votes are counted

As per the Independent Electoral Commission, party agents, independent ward candidate agents and observers oversee the counting and results process and are present at all times.

Moreover, the counting of votes at the country’s 23,148 voting stations normally takes place at the voting station where the votes are cast.

First, party agents must ensure all ballot boxes are accounted for. Only then will sealed ballot boxes be opened and emptied.


The next step is to unfold and check each ballot paper for the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) security stamp. If a ballot paper doesn’t have the stamp, it won’t be counted.

Ballot papers are then grouped by District, Local/Metro, and Ward, before being sorted into piles according to votes for each party and each ward candidate.

Once the papers are counted, the results for the various parties or candidates are reconciled against the number of ballots received and the total number of ballots cast at each voting station.

The counting officer and party agents will sign the result slips, and a copy of the slip will be attached to the door of each voting station.

Follow our elections live blog here.

External auditors

Another copy of the slip will be taken to the local Electoral Commission office where it will be scanned, captured and verified by external auditors.

Throughout this process, parties and candidates will be allowed to raise objected if they suspect irregularities occurred during the counting process.

The final results and seat allocation for Metro and Local Councils are announced by the Commission a few days after the election.  

READ MORE: Local Election updates.

election results
Photo: IEC