Home News Thieves, vandals strike at civic hall in Squarehill Park

Thieves, vandals strike at civic hall in Squarehill Park

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The hall was supposed to be used as a voting station in the upcoming local government elections but cannot be utilised due to its dilapidated state.

THE FLOORS civic hall in Squarehill Park has been badly vandalised, where sections of the roof and doors were stolen, while windows have been broken.

The hall was supposed to be used as a voting station in the upcoming local government elections but cannot be utilised due to its dilapidated state.

A local resident, Ivan Swarts, said the hall posed a “security risk” to the neighbourhood.

“People were living on the stage and we managed to chase them out with the assistance of the neighbourhood watch. They were also digging up the underground cables. The Floors library and clinic are also in danger of being vandalised,” said Swarts on Thursday.

Electoral Commission (IEC) provincial manager Elkin Topkin stated that an alternative voting station was secured at a school in Floors as the civic hall was in a state of disrepair.

“We assessed all possible venues to ensure that they are in a suitable condition. During the survey we found that the condition of about five state and private venues in the Province that were previously used as voting stations had deteriorated or were vandalised and were no longer conducive for voting purposes,” said Topkin.

He added that a number of farms could not be accessed as voting stations, where the farm owners were concerned about the security of their premises.

“In some instances the IEC will set up tents along the side of the road as many voters situated in remote farming communities may not have access to travel up to 20 kilometres to the nearest town to cast their votes.”

Topkin went on to say that the IEC had developed a hybrid electronic voting system in 2009.

“Electronic voting may be used in the future and especially in light of the Covid-19 restrictions that have posed some challenges. However, at this stage there are still a number of obstacles with online voting, such as access to technology and the lack of a paper trail – which is essential whenever a dispute arises. Currently, you can be guaranteed that you will get the same result if you retrieve the ballot boxes and manually recount the marked ballot papers. While convenient and fast, electronic ballots become a nightmare if you need to trace a vote or if there is a small margin of victory. Many countries all over the world have reverted to ballot boxes instead of online voting due to accuracy issues.”

He added that they were hoping to hear by next week the outcome of the Constitutional Court application to postpone the local government elections.

“Either way, the IEC is ready. If the Constitutional Court agrees to postpone the local government elections until next year, the registration of candidates will automatically be reopened.”

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