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IEC hopes voter turnout will be up

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All polling stations in the Province opened on time, except for Holpan.

STANDING: The queue at the Swedish Hall in Colville early yesterday morning.

DESPITE rain, hail and disruptions at some voting stations in the Northern Cape, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was still hoping for a good voter turnout in the Province yesterday.

The IEC said late yesterday afternoon that it was hoping that the voter turnout this year would be up on the 2014 figures.

“We are very hopeful that voter turnout will this year be slightly more than that of the 2014 general elections. The various political parties have also played a role in sparking an interest amongst voters,” Bonolo Modise, the provincial IEC electoral officer, said yesterday.

Political party representatives posted pictures on social media throughout the day of their top provincial leaders visiting residential areas to encourage voters not to miss the opportunity to make their mark.

Modise said yesterday that besides some small hiccups like the rain which specifically affected the Tsantsabane municipal area in Postmasburg, where heavy hail was reported, and the disruptions at the Holpan voting station, it had been plain sailing in the Northern Cape.

“It seems as if the issues that disrupted voting in Holpan yesterday morning were resolved by around 9am and voting was able to continue. The rain disrupted the voter flow slightly in Postmasburg, but other than that we have had no major disruptions or reports,” Modise said.

There had been a steady flow of voters turning out to vote throughout the day, Modise said. “Just for the voters to come out and vote is all we can ask for.”

According to Modise, all polling stations in the Province opened on time, except for Holpan. “With the intervention of the police, we were able to open that specific polling station at 9 am.”

He added that he had visited a couple of polling stations in and around Kimberley throughout the day.

“Queues are moving at a very fast pace. The mood among the voters is quite interesting and they are interacting among one another. So, if this is how it goes throughout the day then I am quite excited and the voter turnout could be quite high as a result of this.”

This was evident throughout Kimberley where people were camping along the pavements outside voting stations, playing music and interacting regardless of party preference.

Modise said that there was little to no chance of voting stations running out of ballot papers. “We have procured 100% ballot papers plus a buffer for those who voted outside of their registered area.”

He added that there were no reports of voters being turned away at any of the more than 700 voting stations in the Province, regardless of whether the voter was registered there or not.

“We have made provision for this and if, for example, a person was visiting from Johannesburg they could go to any of the polling stations and there would still be enough ballot papers.

“These voters, however, will only be able to vote nationally. Whereas if you are registered in the Northern Cape and are not at your registered station, you would still have been able to make your mark for both national and province. We, however, did not encourage this, but no voter was turned away.”

According to the IEC’s chief electoral officer, Sy Mamabolo, almost all voting stations throughout the country opened on time and by 11am large numbers of voters had already cast their ballots.

“By 11.30am yesterday, only 17 voting stations remained unopened due to access challenges. Fourteen of these were in the southern coast of KwaZulu-Natal,” Mamabolo said.

He also expressed his condolences to the family of an elderly voter who died at a voting station in Elandspoort, Tshwane, early yesterday.

Meanwhile, responding to social media reports of voters attempting to remove the indelible ink mark on their thumbs, Mamabolo warned that any attempt to remove the indelible ink mark constituted electoral fraud, and was punishable by up to 10 years in jail.