Voters in Eastern Cape lead number of election home visits for elections
Plea for rolling protests to end to allow voters the right to cast their ballots
A total of 774,094 voters have been granted permission to cast a special vote on May 6 and 7 for the 2019 general elections.
This is almost double the number of special voters in 2014 (393,516) and is close to the number of special voters in 2009 (743,609), according to electoral officials.
This comes as the electoral commission issued a plea to civil society to halt rolling protest action as the nation gears up to exercise its democratic right to vote.
Of those whose applications for a special vote in 2019 were approved, 58.4% will cast their votes during a home visit by election officials accompanied by party agents and observers.
Voters granted permission for home visits are only those who cannot visit a voting station due to physically infirmity, disability and pregnancy.
The province with the highest number of home visits is the Eastern Cape (85,252) followed by KZN (70,672) and Limpopo (64,906).
The other special votes will be cast by people at their voting station between 9am and 5pm on Monday and Tuesday next week. These are voters who cannot vote on the main election day for reasons such as being away from home due to work commitments.
The province with the highest number of voting station visits is Gauteng (71,921).
The electoral commission said the special voting process involves using a double envelope system in which the marked ballot of the voter is placed in an unmarked envelope which is then placed inside a second envelope which contains the voters' ID.
The outer envelope is used to ensure an accurate register and verification of special votes, and is removed when the envelope is opened at the close of voting on election day on May 8 2019. Once it's removed from larger envelope, the inner envelope is placed in a ballot box to ensure secrecy of vote and de-link the marked ballot from the details of the voter on the outer envelope.
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Special votes are transported and stored securely overnight at municipal warehouses and other secure locations including local police stations on May 6-7 before being transported back to the voting station on election day for inclusion in the count.
The overnight security facilities are vetted by the State Security Agency to ensure adequate security arrangements, said the electoral commission.
Meanwhile, the National Results Operation Centre for the 2019 national and provincial elections is officially open in the city of Tshwane.
The centre houses members of the electoral commission along with representatives of the 48 political parties contesting the national elections as well as domestic and international observer missions.
About 700 journalists have applied for accreditation. There are also nine provincial results operation centres.
The national centre covers more than 12,000m² of space with over 450 computers, 20km of cabling and three giant screens which will project the results for the national and each provincial election as they are captured.
Speaking at the launch on Tuesday, chair of the electoral commission Glen Mashinini said of the results centre: "This is the place where once every few years our electoral democracy comes to life before our eyes."
He appealed to organisers and participants in ongoing civil demonstrations to allow all election activities including campaigning and voting to proceed unhindered.
"Disrupting the elections and preventing fellow citizens from exercising their constitutional right to vote – a right many of our people fought and died for – cannot be allowed in a democratic country," Mashinini said.
The national and provincial results centres will remain open until the announcement of results of the elections, scheduled for Saturday, May 11.