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Tlakula: High voter turnout a big challenge

The IEC chair says the voting process is going smoothly at all 22,263 voting stations across SA.

IEC chairperson Pansy Tlakula casts her special vote. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The biggest challenge that has arisen during elections is the high voter turnout across the country, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Chairperson Pansy Tlakula said on Wednesday.

She said the voting process is going smoothly at all 22,263 voting stations across South Africa.

"The most pressing challenge we are facing at the moment is an extremely high voter turnout, especially in urban areas where long queues continue to be experienced."

Tlakula said although some stations did open late, they are all up and running.

"We are pleased to report that they are all open with the last station opening at around 2:50pm today in Maruleng in Limpopo."

The IEC said it is looking into what to do about the few polling stations where the opening was delayed.

Tlakula said 260 complaints have been lodged since polls opened at 7am.

Over 97 arrests have been made so far, she said.

The IEC head said parties were warned to respect the midnight cut-off for electioneering, amid reports of electioneering.

The bulk of the questions to the IEC at their second briefing today related to illegal campaigning on polling day.

Tlakula said the law is clear, no political event is allowed on polling day.

Distributing T-shirts isn't illegal.

However, parties have agreed not to do this close to polling stations where it could impede the flow of voters.

She said the long queues can be explained by the fact that the 25,3 million voters are registered, 2,2 million more than in 2009.

Meanwhile,thousands of South Africans who are still waiting to obtain a temporary ID book are running out of time in order to cast their votes

People who have lost their ID's or had them stolen are queuing at Home Affairs offices across the country.

Some people have waited between three and four hours to get the document they need to cast their vote.

IEC officials say a copy of an ID book is not sufficient in order to make their mark.

Voting stations close at 9pm.

Tkalula said anyone who is still in the queue tonight at 9pm will still be allowed to vote.