Making a mark against all odds

Special votes took place two days prior the actual voting date of August, 3.  We have one special voter telling us about his tedious journey on the day his voting, 1st of August.  

26_Special Votes

BOX TICKED: Shaun in his workplace a day after he voted at Parkhurst. Photo: Sisa Canca

Putting a cross in a ballot box may seem like the easiest thing for most people, but Shaun* is one of those individuals who need assistance to make his mark. He cannot make a cross in a box owing to his physical disability which sees him confined to a wheelchair with little use of his arms and legs.  At election time, he needs someone else to help him through the process.

Shaun is a 53-year-old white South African man who believes in the power of the ballot box.  He’s been voting religiously since 1994 despite his inability to write on his own or even hold a pen with his hand.  For him voting is a daunting process that involves being pushed around in his wheelchair and waiting in a queue.  He says he hates the process but also feels that he needs to play a role in deciding on the governance of the country.

This past Monday, August 1, Shaun woke up early, as he usually does, to cast his special vote at the Parkhust Primary School in Randburg.  Arriving at the voting station with his helper, Zodwa, Shaun asked one of the IEC officials to make a cross on his behalf but without giving any reason the official refused.

“No IEC representative could make a cross for me”, said Shaun.  Zodwa came to his rescue, making the mark on his behalf.  Shaun says it was the first time he had had someone from IEC decline to assist him which made him feel as if the voting process is not accommodating of people with disabilities.

His says he is not happy with various issues facing the country like the corruption, lack of jobs and the contracting economy.  Shaun says he wants to be part of driving change in South Africa.   “We need change, the corruption and all these other things are becoming impossible to bear now.  Without our collective votes, that change will never come,” Shaun said.

Shaun was among a record 700 000 registered special voters for this year’s municipal elections.  Those are the people who, by law, applied for special voting because they couldn’t travel to the voting station on Election Day for a variety of reasons including disability or pregnancy. Others registered because they couldn’t be in their respective regions on the day and thus voted on predetermined special voting days, August 1 and 2.


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Wits students voting dololo

By Nokuthula Zwane and Zanta Nkumane

WITS voting stations did not see long lines at the polls as many students skipped out on casting their ballots for the local government elections. Officials estimated that voter turnout was less than 30%.
Throughout election day, the lines at voting stations at Education Campus and the Old Mutual Sports Hall on East campus barely stretched past 20 people at a time. When Wits Vuvuzela went to check at 5pm if the voter turnout had improved, only two people were in the line at Old Mutual. “We were expecting 2 520 people but only 700 have showed up,” an Independent Election Official (IEC) official revealed.  “Students don’t want to vote,” he said with a chuckle.

Wits Vuvuzela journalists took time out from covering elections to cast their own votes. The local government elections went relatively smoothly with voting stations running from 7am to 7pm. Final election results are expected to be released from this evening. PHOTO: ZANTA NKUMANE

#IVOTED: Wits Vuvuzela journalists took time out from covering elections to cast their own votes. The local government elections went relatively smoothly with voting stations running from 7am to 7pm. Final election results are expected to be released from this evening.         PHOTO: Zanta Nkumane

The scenes at the Wits polling stations were as quiet as a cemetery, with security guards and police sitting in a group chatting and snacking. “We’ve been bored all day,” said a police officer.
Across the Library Lawns, the ANC had set up a tent and was still campaigning. A group of about 20 student activists sangs songs in the chilly wind.After a study conducted by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) revealed last week that most students would rather protest than vote, this poor turnout may be a wakeup call for parties to re-think how they engage youth voters going forward.
Mokgadi Maila, a Mining Engineering student, said she was a second time voter but after voting, she was still doubtful if it would make a difference to political parties.
“I don’t think they’ll change anything. I hope they can deliver,” she said.While others went to the polls, some students didn’t bother to register to vote.
“You vote then what happens?” asked 23-year-old Smanele Mbhele, Honours Education. “I had better things to do today than vote.”
Although the turnout at Wits was not as expected, many South Africans made their X mark on the ballot for the Municipal Elections.
Over 133.000 voting booths were opened across the country. In preparation for the elections, the IEC had made arrangements to ensure that the elections remained free and fair.
Among the citizens who voted around the country was President Jacob Zuma who cast his vote in his hometown of Nkandla, in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane cast his vote with his wife, Natalie, at the Allen Glen High School in Roodeport. Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema cast his vote in Seshego, Limpopo.
This election has been highly anticipated with many opposition parties such as the DA and EFF expecting to increase their share of the vote at the expense of the ruling ANC.

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Voting – step by step

Wednesday, August, 3rd 2016 is a public holiday set aside for South Africans to vote in the Local Government Elections ( click here to see if you’re registered). When you arrive to make your vote, here is what you can expect.