The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is in a race against time to courier outstanding votes cast abroad back to the country in time for the count.

If those ballots were not at the IEC’s headquarters by 9pm on Wednesday night those votes would not be counted, IEC deputy chief electoral officer, Sy Mamabolo, said on Tuesday night.

“Not all the ballot papers have reached the country yet. We are still waiting for the rest.

“They will be coming on Wednesday,” Mamabolo said.

The bulk of the ballot papers from other countries had been sent to the IEC’s headquarters, Election House, in Centurion.

By Monday, ballot papers from 50 countries had reached the office and more arrived on Tuesday.

The IEC was still waiting for ballot papers from Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC (all in the US), Uruguay, Venezuela and Vietnam.

“I think we will receive them during the course of the day.”

He said the number of expats who had voted would be known only once all the ballots were in the country.

At the moment IEC and political party officials were reconciling the ballots that had arrived.

They would be counted together with Wednesday’s votes after all the voting stations have closed.

The multimillion-rand logistics operation will end with more than 100 flights ferrying ballot papers to Pretoria from 116 cities.

The IEC budgeted about R2 million to courier the ballot papers to South Africa.