PRETORIA – The national voter registration weekend began in earnest on Saturday.
Various political leaders visited voting stations, urging eligible voters to register and verify their details.
Over 73,000 election officials were reported in place in some 22,600 voting stations to register new voters and to allow already registered voters to check and update their address details in preparation for the 2019 national and provincial elections, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said in a statement.
Eligible and registered voters made their way to their voting stations in response to the call to update the voters’ roll.
“The electoral commission would like to express its appreciation to political leaders and parties, the media, and other stakeholders who have raised awareness of the registration weekend and the importance of a reliable, accurate, and up-to-date voters’ roll for free and fair elections,” the commission said.
“Sadly, in a handful of isolated areas a small number of voting stations around the country were unable to open on time or were forced to close shortly after opening due to a range of incidents.”
The most common of these was due to community protests using the high profile of the voter registration activities to draw attention to their grievances, and in some instances prevented staff and voters from reaching the voting stations or conducting registrations.
Provincial election staff were working closely with community leaders and security forces in all these areas to ensure voting stations opened as soon as possible to allow citizens to enjoy their constitutional right to register as voters.
Other incidents reported during Saturday’s deployment included two accidents involving election personnel on their way to open voting stations. In both incidents the staff members were hospitalised, one with minor injuries and one with more serious injuries. The commission wished them a speedy recovery.
The commission urged all registered voters to use the opportunity to check their address details, and all unregistered eligible voters to visit their voting station to register.
Voters visiting their voting station should take a copy of their bar-coded ID book, smart card ID, or temporary ID certificate. Voting stations would be open from 8am to 5pm on Sunday.