Ever wondered where your votes go after the voting station closes? Are they taken away to the big office in a big truck? We go behind the process of counting votes.

Most of us will have heard someone say “my vote is my secret” at some point in our lives, and especially over the past few weeks. Your secret it is indeed, but how do you know that your secret is safe.

What happens after we make our marks on the ballot paper? Is there a big black box where votes are counted? Who is the president of vote counting (if there was ever such a thing)?

Wits Vuvuzela asked Provincial Electoral Officer of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in Gauteng Boitumelo Monaki to help us out with some of these questions.

  1. How are votes counted?

Counting commences as soon as possible after the conclusion of voting. This happens at the voting station. We begin by verifying the total number of ballot boxes used. Ballot box seals are then confirmed with party agents.

Then the counting process begins:

We first pour all the ballot papers on the table and sort them by colour. The ballot papers are counted face down for reconciliation.

Thereafter they are counted face up checking for spoilt ballot papers and sorted according to candidates.

  1. What happens when all the ballots have been counted?

At the conclusion of counting, results are recorded on the result slip which is sent to the municipal electoral officer’s office to be captured on the IEC system and scanned as well. Political Parties are then able to view the scanned result slips on the IEC systems.

  1. How will voters have access to the results?

A copy of the result slip is placed on the outside window/door of the voting station even when the voting station is a tent.

  1. What happens to spoilt votes?

They are recorded and not counted as part of votes for any party or candidate.

  1. What systems have been put in place to ensure that vote rigging does not take place?

There are party agents at every voting station to monitor the process. Additionally, there are election observers from inside and outside the country to check if the process meets the required SADC, AU and international standard.

  1. And on the side of the voters?

Voters have their names marked off the voters roll as proof that they have voted. The voter left thump is inked with indelible ink to make sure that they cannot vote again using another/ fraudulent ID document.  If they have an ID, their ID is stamped.

  1. What do you do to make sure that the elections are free and fair?

We ensure that the environment is conductive to a free and fair election process. This means we ensure that there is no intimidation of voters before, during and after elections and we resolve all objections raised by political parties and the public.

  1. So how do we know that our votes are safe?

All IEC staff sworn to secrecy.

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