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Monday, 27 May 2024 16:10

IEC believes 'progress' has been made thus far with special voting despite number of delays.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has declared that it is ready to administer the special votes between Monday and Tuesday, ahead of Election Day on Wednesday.

However day one of special voting has been marred by a number of delays, including taxi strikes, service delivery protests and voting material not reaching polling stations on time, leaving about 107 of the 435 voting stations across the country closed.

Special votes for those South Africans out of country have already been cast.

Domestic special votes are for those who are either infirm or have impaired mobility who will be visited by the IEC at their or home or place of confinement and also for those who wish to cast their vote early as they may not be able to access their voting station on general Election Day on 29 May 2024.

IEC deputy chief electoral officer Masego Seburi told journalists on Monday afternoon that by 2pm, more than 200 000 of the 1.6 million registered special votes had been cast at the country's 22 000 voting stations.

Sheburi said that "factors external to the electoral programme" had prevented the operation of 107 polling stations in the OR Tambo region, because of a taxi strike and resultant violence in the Mthatha area.

A total of 435 polling stations out of 22 626 had experienced delays in opening, but only those affected by the disruptions at Mthatha had been unable to open at all, he said.

"Owing to the good preparations, the commission was able to open the majority of voting stations in the Eastern Cape, in the face of protests which had nothing to do with elections," he said.

"The commission continues to work with stakeholders to have them open tomorrow."

The IEC said 624 593 voters would cast their special votes at home or in places of confinement, while prisoners who had registered would get to participate on 29 May.

Sheburi said the commission believed "good progress" had been made with the process thus far and that the special votes would be stored securely and then added to the ballots cast on Wednesday before counting begins.

The IEC was aware of the disinformation and misinformation taking place on social media, including a video portraying ballots being filled in, he said, adding that the video being circulated was "clearly" not of a South Africa ballot paper.

"We urge voters and candidates to be vigilant of misinformation and disinformation," he said.

Sheburi said the difficulties the electoral body faced were “not comparable” to the huge number of voting stations and that the number of those with problems was "insignificant".