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‘Worst-run elections’: IEC volunteers in CT complain of chaos on election day

While political parties were concerned about voter turnout, the IEC was worried about volunteer burnout.

FILE: An IEC voting station. Picture: IEC South Africa

CAPE TOWN - Some Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) volunteers in Cape Town described the recent elections as the worst-run ever.

Observers generally gave the IEC the thumbs up in terms of managing challenges, but some staff complained to **Eyewitness News **of “chaos” on election day.

With nearly 200,000 volunteers on duty, the IEC said there were eight officials per voting station on average, with a presiding officer and deputy presiding officer at each to oversee matters.

While political parties were concerned about voter turnout, the IEC was worried about volunteer burnout.

“Are we going to push them to work till late in that state? Or, are we going to say to them 'go and rest'?” IEC Western Cape head Courtney Sampson said a day after the polls.

The commission had not foreseen that so many people would vote at stations where they were not registered and this led to some stations running out of ballot papers.

For those on the ground, it was chaos and several volunteers and officials told EWN these were the worst-run elections they’d ever experienced.

Volunteers said they worked non-stop for more than 19 hours and an area manager even crashed his car on election day while trying to deliver ballot papers.

He said exhaustion and stress led to a blackout.

The IEC said it couldn't divulge employee/employer agreements, adding staff could report complaints to supervisors.

Editors' note: The story has been changed to reflect a factual error. We earlier reported that the Section24A application had been implemented for the first time during the 2019 general elections. This was incorrect. The application has been in place since 2003.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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