The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) told MPs that the offline function of the voter management devices has been optimised to allow the machines to operate even without connectivity throughout the day.
THE ELECTORAL Commission of South Africa (IEC) told MPs on Tuesday that the offline function of the voter management devices has been optimised to allow the machines to operate even without connectivity throughout the day.
Briefing the home affairs portfolio committee on the weekend voter registration, deputy chief electoral officer Masego Sheburi said they have upgraded the operating system of the voter management devices to Android and enhanced applications they developed in-house.
“Offline mode will allow for the machine to operate without connectivity or poor connectivity,” he said.
Sheburi also said the applications were optimised to default to offline in cases where connection could not be established with databases for whatever reason.
“In offline mode, the data is stored on the device and only transmitted when a stable connection has been established to the network, and where connection to databases has been restored.”
He added that they have undertaken maintenance on each of the voter management devices.
“We checked for battery life, whether the SIM card connects to the internet and whether they have a SIM card. Those found faulty were swapped out in terms of the contract we have with the service provider who provided the devices.”
Sheburi said they conducted a dry run on the ICT system and supporting infrastructure with 23,296 voting stations and 74,356 staff participating ahead of the registration weekends.
The dry run on October 28 was also done to test the device’s functionality and operation of applications, as well as to establish proficiency of registration staff.
Sheburi said the dry run proved that the offline mode of the voter management devices worked and the applications functioned seamlessly.
“Some of the challenges identified were fixed. We are happy that we have a number of staff that is more than adequate to run the registration weekend. There are instances of people withdrawing at late notice but there are additional positions.”
The IEC has already trained 74,520 staff and as at Monday 1,960 were still to be trained until Thursday.
Sheburi explained that the IEC recruited staff against criteria that were developed jointly with the Party Liaison Committee (PLC).
“Once we recruited staff members we shared the names with the local PLC so that parties can give it to their structures.”
“I can indicate that we blacklisted 155 and removed people we recruited either because of criminal record or serious criminal offences.”
Sheburi said there will be 23,296 voting stations and only 23 voting station leases would be concluded this week.
“We still have a significant number of voting stations that have no formal structures. We have to put up tents to run activities.”
The registration material was kept at local storage sites waiting to be moved to the voting stations during the weekend.
MPs were generally satisfied with the readiness for the registration weekend and its awareness campaign.
IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe wanted assurance that when the voter management devices were offline, data would be stored and sent when the devices connected.
IEC chairperson Mosotho Moepya said the batteries for the voter management devices would be able to operate offline for a day even if there was load shedding.
“When a voter is scanned, information is kept on the machine. There is no information that will be needed after that. Once kept, it is safely downloaded onto the system.
“There is no loss of information as a result of the devices being offline,” he said.