Voting in Western Cape went well despite some glitches, say observers

10 May 2019 - 16:56 By ernest mabuza
An observer team in the Western Cape says elections in the province went smoothly, despite the rain and cold weather.
An observer team in the Western Cape says elections in the province went smoothly, despite the rain and cold weather.

The fact that some voters could cast their ballots at stations other than the ones they were registered at was responsible for some delays in the Western Cape on election day.

This is an observation made by the More Than Peace election observer teams, which were deployed in a number of stations in the province during the national and provincial elections on Wednesday.

PODCAST: Smaller parties suspect fraud

More Than Peace, a coalition of faith-based organisations working for peace and justice, said most polling stations had operated well and according to plan, except for the provision which allowed voters to vote where they were not registered.

"This created significant delays and queues early on which were compounded by the depletion of ballot papers and VEC 4 forms across a significant number of polling stations as the day progressed.

"The administration of the VEC 4 forms added stress to the presiding officers and staff. We observed their exhaustion as the day wore on and particularly during the counting process later in the day," said Rev Annie Kirke, from the coalition.

She said the option of voting anywhere in the province also revealed a systemic vulnerability in the prevention of voter fraud.

"If the indelible ink could be removed from a voter's thumb after voting, during the special voting days or election day, then it would be theoretically possible for voters to cast additional votes at different polling stations," she said.

Kirke said the only way an election observer could verify this voter fraud was if they were to recognise a voter at multiple polling stations during the process.

"This observation was unlikely to happen and so we can't make a conclusive finding on whether multiple voting did occur.

"The systemic vulnerability should be fixed for future elections," Kirke said.

Kirke said the teams also observed weaknesses in the leadership of a number of presiding officers, and some support staff.

"In a few cases their lack of knowledge, understanding, ability and/or confidence saw the voting process compromised. Some of these presiding officers, mainly those with less experience, relied too heavily on the knowledge or input of observers or party agents to complete their work.

"This was not an issue that substantively affected the outcome of the election, but an area for improvement for the next election."

More than Peace observed and reported from more than 130 polling stations in Khayelitsha, Siqalo, Mitchells Plain, Vrygrond, Delft, Imizamo Yethu, Hangberg, Masiphumele, Parkwood, Lwandle, Hermanus, Gugulethu, Langa, Lavender Hill, Bonteheuwel, Mfuleni, Claremont, Maitland, Ottery and the Cape Town CBD, among other stations.