IEC unveils math whiz squad to count votes correctly

Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) CEO Sy Mamabolo says that to improve the quality of the counting and the completion of result slips, the commission has instituted a new category of staff who will support the presiding officer with the counting effort.

Speaking to the media with approximately two hours of voting left, Mamabolo said the recruitment criteria for these staff members was slightly different from the rest, as high levels of numeracy are mandatory.

He said three such staff members were being appointed for each voting station and each sub-station where the IEC operates a voting centre.


Special recruitment criteria

He continued: “First and foremost, ballots are counted at the voting station where they are cast. Party agents, independent candidate agents, and observers monitor the entire counting. And results process and are present at all times.

“Sealed ballot boxes are opened and emptied. Each ballot paper is unfolded face-down and checked for the IEC security stamp. Stamped ballots are considered valid,” he said.

Unstamped ballots invalid

He said unstamped ballots were invalid and were not counted towards the results.

“All valid ballot papers are grouped according to colours representing the type of election (national, regional, and provincial). The ballots are sorted into piles according to votes for each party and each candidate. They are counted and bundled into packs of 100. The results are counted for each party or candidate.”

Mamabolo said that with the final results to be announced within seven days, the commission is confident they will wrap up sooner.
He earlier made an urgent call for citizens to rush to the polls before they closed at 9pm. The IEC boss stated that provision would guarantee that every citizen who had made an effort to be at the voting station could cast a ballot.

“We urge those who have not voted to use the remaining two hours to go and make their mark,” he said. He added that members of the SAPS would remain deployed at the voting stations. This was to ensure the safety of voters.


Pleased with high voter turnout

Long lines were still snaking around metropolitan areas in Gauteng, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape at the time of the briefing.
Mamabolo said the commission was pleased with the high turnout at many voting stations. He thanked voters who had exercised patience in the queues. Correctional facilities had even completed voting. This ensured that the incarcerated population could exercise their democratic rights, he said.

Mamabolo said that once the ballots were counted, they would be whisked away to storage facilities.

“This process will be handled with the utmost care. However, should members of the public spot electoral material, they are urged not to touch them. They should instead report the matter to the police.”

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