All systems go for IEC Western Cape as elections kick off with special votes this weekend
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THE Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) in the Western Cape says it was ready for the local government elections to be held on Monday.
Briefing the media on the state of readiness for the election day, provincial electoral officer Michael Hendrickse said it has been a long and bumpy road to get to the polling day.
“The moment has finally arrived when we kick off local government elections with special votes on Saturday and Sunday,” Hendrickse said.
He said they have, through the Provincial Joint Operational and Intelligence Strictures (ProvJoints), put in a number of preparations to ensure the elections run smoothly.
The security forces have ranked the 1 577 voting stations according to their low, medium and high risk status.
There was also a provincial team of conflict management panellists that would engage with communities where there are protests.
Hendrickse said the national IEC has engaged with Eskom to ensure loadshedding does not occur on Monday and Tuesday.
“We are engaging with Eskom in that regard to ensuring for that 48 hour period there is no loadshedding from Monday through to Tuesday because on Tuesday we are busy with the results capturing process as well.
“We have some measures in place, for example, especially our temporary voting stations where we have generators in place to provide electricity. These are hired or provided by our local municipalities,” he said.
Lanterns have also been procured for use in the voting stations.
The province will have 96 political parties contesting the elections and 53 are in the City of Cape Town Metro.
Just over 12 400 candidates, of which 85 are independents, will be contesting in the elections.
The Western Cape has 1 577 voting stations, which include 35 temporary voting stations that are mainly tents.
“In Khayelitsha we set up a voting station on a sidewalk because it’s either no space or no building in that voting district,” Hendrickse said.
The details of the voting station were not immediately available.
Hendrickse explained that political parties will be allowed to have two party agents in a voting station and independents allowed one each.
“A presiding officer in terms of law has discretion to manage the number of party agents,” he said.
The party agents, he said, could be asked to rotate their presence inside the voting stations to avoid overcrowding in light of Covid-19 protocols.
Hendrickse said training of presiding officers, deputy presiding officers and area managers was completed, while that of the remainder of other staffers was underway and would be done by the weekend.
Hendrickse also said there was a total of 115 601 voters who have been approved for special votes on Saturday and Sunday between 8am and 5pm.
“Voters cannot simply arrive at a voting station on Saturday and Sunday and say ‘I want a special vote’. If your name is not on the pre-approved list, you won’t have a special vote.”
Hendrickse reminded those who applied for special votes at home to remember that they don’t operate by appointment as the IEC.
“We have over 46 000 voters that we need to visit. We work according to a particular route. We have two days to do that and we have a limited number of staff to assist us.”
He said those who would not be found at their homes would have to make arrangements to cast their ballot at voting stations on Monday.
“We work on the fact that you applied for a home visit because you have limited mobility and therefore can’t come to a voting station.
“The team will come to your home and if you are not there, we will unfortunately move on. That voter will make arrangements to somehow get to the voting station on Monday and vote like everybody else.”
On Monday, the normal voting will take place from 7am until 9pm, but those still in the queue will be allowed to vote.
“What we do is we place an official at 9pm behind the last person. That will be cut off for voting to take place so, if you are in the queue, we will allow you to vote,” Hendrickse said.
“We look forward to receiving voters. All our voting stations will be open on Monday and will be adequately staffed,” Hendrickse said.