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Municipal Elections: How the IEC counts votes, declares results

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Nov 1, 2021

The counting of the votes takes usually takes place at the voting station where ballots were cast at the end of the Local Government Elections. The polls opened at 7:00 on Monday, 1 November and they are expected to close at 21:00.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said that party agents, Independent Ward Candidates and election observers would be present and oversee the entire vote counting and the results process.

The IEC explained the eight-step process of counting votes and declaring the results in South African municipal elections.

HOW VOTE COUNTING WORKS

STEP 1: VERIFY

Electoral officials will make sure that all the ballot boxes allocated to a voting station are accounted for.

Sealed ballot boxes are then opened and emptied.

STEP 2: UNFOLD

Each ballot paper is unfolded and checked to ensure the Electoral Commission’s security stamp is present.

Ballots without stamps are not counted. At a progress update earlier on Monday, the IEC Chairperson Glen Mashinini said voters must check their ballot papers and make sure that it is stamped on the reverse before casting their vote.

STEP 3: SORT

All the ballot papers are then grouped according to the colours that represent the type of election – District, Local/Metro and Ward.

Next, the ballots are sorted into piles according to votes for each party and each ward candidate.

STEP 4: COUNT AND BUNDLE

The sorted ballot papers are counted and bundled into batches of 100, the results are tallied for each party or candidate.

HOW THE IEC DECLARES RESULTS

STEP 5: RECONCILE

The electoral officers must make sure that the results for the various parties or candidates are reconciled against the number of ballots received and the total number of votes cast at that specific voting station.

STEP 6: SIGNING OF RESULTS SLIPS

The counting officer, independent ward candidate agents and political party agents sign the result slips and a copy of the results slip is posted on the door of each voting station.

Another copy of the results slip is taken to the local IEC office where it is scanned and captured on the results system. Independent external auditors also verify the results.

STEP 7: RESULTS CENTRES

The IEC’s results centres are larger venues where political party representatives and independents can monitor the progress in voting, counting and the results process.

“Parties have the opportunity to raise objections to any alleged irregularities,” said the IEC.

The media, observers and other stakeholders are also allowed into the Results Operation Centres (ROC).

STEP 8: FINAL RESULTS

The final results and seat allocations for Metro and Local municipality councils must be announced by the IEC within seven days of the election.

“District Councils are formed later once the local councils have been constituted and have elected representatives to the District Council,” said the IEC.

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