IEC elections results centre in Pretoria. Picture: GCIS
IEC elections results centre in Pretoria. Picture: GCIS

With less than a week to go until the May 8 polls, the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) says it is facing additional demands and pressure due to the record number of 76 parties contesting the general elections. 

“The longer ballots have placed additional financial and logistical demands on the commission including requiring more ballot boxes, redesigned universal ballot templates, and a refined focus on balloting education,“ the IEC said on Thursday.

“Demands are also placed on voters, including the visually disabled who have to navigate a wide range of choices on longer national and provincial ballots.” 

The first votes were cast abroad on April 27 and have been received by the national office of the electoral commission. The country's 22,924 voting stations will open on Monday when special votes start. The commission will also pitch 1,059 tents where no suitable permanent structures are available. 

The IEC said elections materials will be transported from local warehouses to voting stations on Monday morning, under police guard.

A total of 774,094 voters have been given permission to cast a special vote on Monday and Tuesday. All special votes cast, along with all sensitive materials, including ballot papers, will then be transported and stored overnight at secure storage locations before being transported back to the voting station on election day.

The IEC said once voting closes at 9pm on Wednesday, counting will  begin immediately at each voting station, and will be conducted by election officials and witnessed by party agents and observers.

On the process of counting, the IEC explained that once a voting station has finished counting, a results slip will be completed by the presiding officer and signed by party agents, who are also encouraged to take a photo. 

One copy of the results slip will  be posted on the door of the voting station while the second copy will be taken back to the local IEC office where it will be scanned into the results system and the data captured twice to reduce any human error.

The captured results are compared against the scan of the results slip and audited by independent auditors before being transmitted to the national and provincial results operations centres, where they immediately become available to the IEC, political parties, observers and the media.

The final responsibilities for election officials will be to secure the return of all election material to local and provincial warehouses for storage. The Electoral Act requires all completed ballot papers to be retained in storage for six months, according to the IEC.