IEC confident by-elections will run smoothly on Wednesday

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The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) says it is confident that Wednesday’s by-elections taking place in 24 wards across the country will go well, based on the smooth running of Tuesday’s special voting.

Electoral Commission officials have fanned out across the country to take care of the 6 000 voters that applied for special votes, with 3 000 voters visited at their homes and the other 3 000 visiting voting stations.

Wednesday’s by-elections, which will affect nearly 172 000 certified voters, will be contested by 77 candidates. The 77 will be representing 14 political parties along with 18 independent candidates.

IEC Deputy CEO, Mawethu Mosery, says there were no reports of difficulties throughout the day.

“We are appreciating that the community is accepting them in the manner that they are in and we have no report of difficulties throughout the day so the special votes are proceeding well but also they become a dry run for our logistics for the voting day and to the extent that we were able to be operational in all the 118 voting stations on schedule today (Tuesday), we are confident that tomorrow’s (Wednesday’s) logistically should not be a major problem.”

Electoral Commission says everything ready for Wednesday polls:

Disruptions

Mosery says the Electoral Commission is not concerned about disruptions in voting for new councillors to replace those that have died, resigned or been replaced by their parties in 24 wards across 17 municipalities.

Last month’s by-elections in 95 wards saw disruptions at a ward in Naledi, Soweto, and at the Amahlati Municipality, in Eastern Cape, where service delivery protesters blocked the process of voting and had to be dispersed by the police.

“For these 24 wards, we have not identified any hotspots so we do not expect to be surprised by protest. But secondly, we always plan together with the security establishment of the country for by-elections as well as general elections, they are always ahead of the planning together with us obviously on the civic education we have to be talking to our communities to encourage them not to protest on voting day the best mechanism of protesting on voting day is to go and vote differently.”

Mosery says that the IEC is continuing its steep learning curve of how to hold elections and by-elections in the age of COVID-19. It is due to hold by-elections in January and March ahead of the local government election scheduled for later next year.

“In November, we had voters that got so scared when they saw our staff kitted like medical officers and refused to admit them into their homes so this time we communicated that element well secondly, on voting day itself the social distancing managing the activities of political parties outside the voting stations we have had to continue our dialogue with political party leaders to ensure they keep those tables and chairs with minimal tables there.”

Voting is scheduled to take place between 7 am and 9 pm with voters reminded to bring their green barcoded ID document or smart card ID, wear a mask, observe social distancing and bring their own pen if they wish to avoid using the ones provided.

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