FILE PHOTO: Election workers hand over ballot papers to elderly and disabled South African voters to cast their ballots during early voting. Picture: Ben Curtis

Durban - After the votes have been cast on Wednesday the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) would have seven days within which to declare the results.

After that it would be down to the business of legislature seats for the various parties based on their performance at the polls.

Then the many candidates on the various party lists would know if they have secured jobs as public representatives for the next five years

In the National Assembly there are 400 seats up for grabs, while in the nine legislatures the number of seats available per provincial legislature varies based on the population of each province.

KwaZulu-Natal has the highest number of seats available in its legislature (80) due to its population size of more than 10 million people.

The Northern Cape, Free State and Mpumalanga legislatures have the lowest number of seats, with just 30 seats each.

However, the stakes are high with a total of 33 parties having been confirmed as contesting the elections at various levels.

In the Western Cape, 26 parties would be contesting for eats in the provincial legislature while in Gauteng there are 22 parties and in KwaZulu-Natal 18 parties contesting those legislatures.

Depending on how many voters turn out to cast their ballots on Wednesday, a party would need about 50 000 votes to secure one seat in the national and provincial legislature.

But for many of the small parties securing this number of votes could prove a difficult, if not near-impossible, task.

Some will be hoping to make it to the various legislatures on the so-called fraction seats. In the past some parties have managed to get a seat in a legislature while scoring as little as 20 000 votes.

Parties like the Minority Front (MF) are making no qualms about them gunning for the so-called fraction seats in Gauteng where just more than 6 million voters are registered.

But how exactly are the seats calculated?

To try to explain the seat allocation we will use the 2009 figures for the provincial ballot in KwaZulu-Natal.

The method used is that you first have to divide the number of total valid votes cast by the number of seats available for allocation.

The answer you get would then be used to divide the number of votes that each party got.

So in the case of the 2009 results, you would first have to divide 3 482 987 (the total number of valid votes cast) by 80 (the number of available seats in the KZN legislature).

The answer is 43 537 which is basically what each party has to get to be guaranteed a seat.

However, as per the intentions of the method of allocation which seeks to benefit the smaller parties, the ACDP got way less than the 43 537 votes, but managed to get a seat, while the MF also managed to get two seats despite not getting twice the number of votes required to get the one seat.

Here is how the calculations are made.

To calculate the number of seats the number of votes received by each party is then divided by the quota number.

That would produce an answer with a number consisting of the integer part and the fractional remainder.

The allocation of seats takes place in two parts – the first being the allocation equal to the integer part of the answer after the formula is applied.

For example the ANC’s 2 192 516 votes were divided by 43 537 to give 50.36 as an answer.

This then gave the ANC 50 seats at the first phase of the allocation.

The first allocation is done by dropping the fractions, which are only taken into account during the second phase of the allocation.

For example in that election the seat allocation went as follows:

The allocation of seats by dropping the fractions in each party’s results usually leaves a number of seats available for allocation, normally not more than five, allocated by using the remaining fractions.

As with the 2009 example, only 76 seats could be allocated using the whole numbers, leaving four seats. The allocation of those four seats was then done based on the highest four fractions per party.

The party with the highest fraction, the IFP (0.92), therefore got another seat pushing its seats to a total of 18. Next in line for a seat was the Minority Front with the second highest fraction (0.64) from the first calculation.

The MF then got another seat bringing its seats to two.

While in the first round of counting the ACDP had not received any seat, in this round it did receive a seat as its 23 537 votes (0.54) was the third highest of the remainders from the other big parties.

The last seat went to the ANC for the 0.36 fraction (15 666 votes).

So had the UDM managed to get slightly above the 0.36 remainder of the ANC, that last seat would have gone to it.

By the end of the final count, the seat allocation in the provincial legislature looked like this:

With 5.1 million voters registered to vote in KwaZulu-Natal and 25 million nationally, parties would need to muster a slightly higher number of votes to get a seat in the legislature.

However, all this would depend on voter turn-out on Election Day.

If for example the same number of voters (3 482 987) goes out to vote in this election as they did in 2009, then the average a party would need to be guaranteed a seat would be the 43 537.

But at least 77 percent (3.92 million) of the registered voters are expected to cast their votes, this is based on the 77.3 percent who voted in the 2009 general elections.

Such high voter turn-out would mean each party would need about 50 000 for a seat. But of course there will still be the fraction seats to throw a lifeline to smaller parties.

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The 2014 elections by numbers

* 25 362 221: The total number of registered voters across the country an increase from 23 181 997 in 2009

* 13 924 551: registered female voters

* 11 437 670: registered male voters

* 5 117 131: people registered to vote in KZN up from 4 475 217 in 2009

* 22 263: Voting stations across the country

* 4 747: Voting stations across KwaZulu-Natal up from 4 300 in 2009

* 29: Parties that will appear on the national ballot

* 18: Parties on the KZN ballot

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