Pretoria – The 2016 Municipal Elections have started with more than 700 000 people, who registered for special votes, casting their votes from today.
The special votes, which are only for those who applied, will be cast between 8am and 5pm on Monday and Tuesday.
Among those who will cast their special votes this morning is IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini, who will cast his vote in Sandton.
A record of 719 222 applications for special votes were granted for the 2016 Municipal Elections. These applications include 315 597 (44%) home visits.
“The special vote process will also provide the commission with an opportunity to test its system ahead of the elections on 3 August 2016,” the IEC said, adding that it has put in place all the necessary measures and is confident that the process will go smoothly.
Officials of the commission will be visiting and assisting all people who have applied to be visited at their place of residence.
On Wednesday, all other South Africans will cast their votes in what has been described as the most hotly contested poll since 1994.
More than 26 million registered voters are expected to vote in the 2016 municipal elections.
Altogether, 73.9 billion ballot papers were printed for the 2016 Municipal Elections and have been delivered to the 22 612 voting stations.
These ballot papers include 4 649 unique ballot papers representing political parties and independent candidates contesting each municipality and each ward.
The commission has urged all South Africans to go out in their numbers to cast their vote.
“The electoral process provides voters with a platform to express their will by electing individuals that they believe will best represent their interest,” said the commission.
The exercise of delivering voting materials to the voting stations was concluded over the weekend.
“The officials of the commission have over the past few days procured sites where these materials would be securely kept for utilisation on voting day.”
Theft of ballots
Thus far, there has only been one incident involving theft of ballots. However, the IEC said the police as well as commission officials acted swiftly to deal with this situation.
“The stolen ballot papers where quarantined and blacklisted using their serial numbers. New ballot papers using different security features have already been printed and dispatched to the correct voting stations,” said the IEC.
Safe environment for elections
Meanwhile, the commission said it has been working very closely with law enforcement agencies and is confident that the electoral process will be smooth.
National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) has been activated and will ensure safe environment for the elections across the country.
About 100 000 officers will be on election duty. Over 50 000 police officers will be on duty at voting stations across the country, while the rest will be mobile so that they can respond to situations if the need arises. Police will also be deployed to known hotspots.
State of readiness in Vuwani
NATJOINTS will this morning brief media in Vuwani, Limpopo, on the state of readiness in Vuwani.