Special votes: IEC gears up for 1.6m crosses

Over 1.6 million voters initiate special ballots before Wednesday's main vote, reflecting dedication to electoral integrity.

The wait is almost over. Election 2024 kicks into high gear on Monday, as more than 1.6 million voters cast their special ballots ahead of the main voting day on Wednesday.

According to Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) chief electoral office Sy Mamabolo, a little over a million special voters would vote at the voting stations where they were registered, while the remaining 624 593 would be visited by the IEC’s officers at their homes or places of confinement.

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By law, a qualifying voter could apply for a special vote if he or she can’t travel to the voting station because of being physically infirm, disabled or pregnant, or can’t be at the voting station on Wednesday. Special votes will be cast on Monday and Tuesday.

Special votes will be kept by the IEC

Like the foreign votes totalling 56 800 votes cast at 111 foreign missions on 18 May, special votes will also be kept by the IEC to await the final count.

During the three days of voting, the IEC’s hectic schedule includes supplying each of the more than 27 million voters on the voter’s roll with three ballot papers – a first since 1994.

Mamabolo said more than 90 million ballot papers had already been printed and delivered.

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This time, the commission employed 202 500 voting officials, that included a new category of staff dedicated to ensuring the quality of the vote counting. The effort “underscores our resolute dedication to upholding the integrity of the electoral process”, Mamabolo said.

He described the poll as a “historic occasion”, “electoral odyssey”, “momentous journey” and “defining moment”.

Transparency lies at the heart of IEC’s mission

IEC chair Mosotho Moepya said transparency “lies at the heart of our mission as an accountable institution”.

Each voting station result would undergo rigorous audit authentication before being posted to ensure accuracy and accountability, he said.

“Our dedication to accountability is evidenced by the measures in place to safeguard the credibility of the election results. The capture and verification of results at each voting station, independent audits and real-time accessibility of data to stakeholders exemplify our commitment to integrity,” Moepya said.

Located at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand for the first time, the IEC’s national results operation centre will serve as the primary management hub for electoral operations.

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It will also serve as a central hub for political parties, independent candidates, observers, the media and other stakeholders to access real-time results.

‘Male democracy work’

IEC commissioner Judge Dhaya Pillay said since the announcement of the election date, the IEC has dealt with 17 court cases, with 14 cases ruled in the IEC’s favour and three cases still outstanding.

“As we emerge from this experience of heightened litigation, we go forward reflecting on how two streams of decision-making – one through the courts and the other through the ballot – come together to make democracy work,” Pillay said.

In terms of the profile of the voting staff, 73% are female, 28% are youth under 25, and 84% are unemployed.

“These elections are not about us and it is certainly not about our prejudices,” Mamabolo said.

“An election is about the 27 million registered voters whose political choice we are called to facilitate and record. “In this regard, we dare not fail.”

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