A voter gets her thumb marked before she casts her vote during the sixth general election at the Cottanlands Primary school 45 kilometres north of Durban, on May 8, 2019. Picture: RAJESH JANTILAL
A voter gets her thumb marked before she casts her vote during the sixth general election at the Cottanlands Primary school 45 kilometres north of Durban, on May 8, 2019. Picture: RAJESH JANTILAL

The announcement of the final elections results could be delayed as the Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) looks into allegations of double voting and conducts new audits of several voting stations.

The final results are due to be announced on Saturday.

IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said the commission would conduct an audit of results and votes cast in a sample of voting stations to ascertain if double voting had occurred.

The audit would cover a statistically representative sample of voting stations as well as all voting stations where complaints or allegations of double voting had been received, he said.

This process was endorsed by political parties in the party liaison committee on Thursday.

KwaZulu-Natal IEC head Futhi Ntombela said 19 people were arrested  in the province for double voting. “I can confirm that 19 people were arrested — two were arrested in Hluhluwe and 17 were arrested in Danhauser,” she said.

There were several reports that a 20th person was arrested in Port Shepstone, while some said it was Potchefstroom, in the North West. This could not be immediately confirmed.

As vote counting hits the halfway mark on May 9 2019, SA's politicians comment on the election process thus far.

Mamabolo could not say if the announcement of the final results would be delayed but said the commission wanted to declare results with a measure of confidence.

The IEC has seven days to announce results after voting stations close.

The DA’s James Selfe earlier said his party had called for 15 voting stations to go through this process, and that the EFF had raised the same issue.

The new audits can only be done once the initial counting and results are handed over to the IEC and placed on the national database.

Reports started surfacing on Wednesday that the ink used to mark those who had voted was easy to wash off; that ID scanners at some voting stations had malfunctioned; and that some people were going from station to station, casting more than one ballot and bragging about it on social media.

Mamabolo said the audit process is meant to “check the extent of the phenomenon”, and that a scientific process needs to be used to determine this.

“Our perspective on the audit is that it is an assurance-giving matter ... [It will] ensure there is integrity in the process,” Mamabolo said, adding that it is yet to be seen if the issue has had a material effect on the results.

The IEC was speaking to state agencies to ensure it had the capacity to conduct the audit expeditiously. An auditing firm has not yet been identified. 

Mamabolo explained that the audit would involve capturing information from the ID scanners — also called a zip-zip scanners — and completed VEC 4 forms, which were filled out by voters who did not vote at the stations where they were registered.

The IEC had ordered that the scanners be urgently docked and the information uploaded. Additional resources would also be identified and deployed from Thursday to capture the information and put it into spreadsheets to facilitate comparisons and data analysis.

This data would then be cross-referenced and compared to identify any instances of multiple voting to help establish “scientifically” whether such instances were isolated or systemic and what the material impact is, if any, to the results, Mamabolo said.

The IEC has also ordered an investigation into the effectiveness of the indelible ink marker pens, which were used to mark voters’ thumbs once they had voted. Mamabolo said this investigation would be done in conjunction with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the full co-operation of the supplier of the pens.

The commission procured 200,000 pens and said in an attempt to increase the effectiveness of the pens, it had raised the percentage of silver nitrate from 15%, used in previous elections, to 20%.

With Chris Makhaye

quintalg@businesslive.co.za