Counting has started - and this is how it works

The vote counting is officially underway.
The vote counting is officially underway.
Image: Rajesh Jantilal/AFP

Final results won’t be official for a few days yet, but the first batch of results from the 2019 election is expected before midnight.

So says the Electoral Commission (IEC), which was commenting after voting came to an end on Wednesday. Voting stations had closed at 9pm, except for those people who were in the queue.

Some results, however, will be out in just a few hours. 

"The first results from voting districts with the smallest number of voters are expected to reflect on the results system before midnight tonight," the IEC said.

According to the elections body, this is how the counting process will work:

  • Vote counting takes place within the voting station in front of party agents and observers. The first step in the process is to check the seals and open the ballot boxes. The ballots contained therein are then reconciled with those issued, any remaining unused ballots and any ballots which may have been cancelled;
  • Ballot boxes containing special votes are also opened and the contents verified against lists of authorised special voters before being added to the count. Once the reconciliation is completed, the marked ballots are sorted into piles according to the party voted for;
  • For ease of counting, the ballots are grouped together in batches of tens and hundreds. Where the choice of the voter cannot be immediately and easily determined, these ballots are set aside for further scrutiny. Where the intention of the voter is then determined the ballots are added to those party piles. Where the intention of the voter cannot be reasonably determined – or where the ballot is obviously spoiled – these are grouped together as spoiled ballots. The presiding officer makes the final determination of this;
  • The ballots for each party are counted and recounted to ensure accuracy and the results captured on two duplicate results slips which reflect the voting station, the number of cast ballots, the number of votes for each party and the number of spoiled ballots;
  • The results slips are signed by party agents present who are also encouraged to record the details of the results for themselves (including by taking a photograph of the results slip);
  • One result slip is then posted on the door of the voting station while the other is taken by the presiding officer to the local IEC office where it is scanned and the data entered into the results system using a double capture system to minimise any human error;
  • Once audited by independent auditors, the results are released and are simultaneously visible to all those with access to the results system – including electoral commission, political parties, observers and the media; and
  • Parties can verify the captured results against their copy of the original results slip to ensure accuracy. The length of the process depends on a range of factors including the number of votes cast at the voting station, the number of political parties contesting the ballots, and the number of clearly marked or unclearly marked ballots.

By law, all ballots must be securely retained for six months in case of objections.

Ever wondered what happens after you cast your vote? Where do they go? How are they are captured? We have all of the answers for you right here!

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