Political parties can hand out T-shirts on voting day but not near voting stations, Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) chairwoman Pansy Tlakula said on Wednesday.
“The law does not prohibit the distribution of T-shirts,” she told reporters at the IEC’s national results centre in Pretoria.
“[However] the IEC raised this with political parties today [Wednesday]… and we got an undertaking that they will ensure the distribution does not take place next to the boundary of voting stations.”
If this happened the presiding officer had to intervene to make sure voters were not disturbed.
Tlakula said no political party was allowed to campaign on voting day.
“No political events can take place on voting day. Campaigning finished at midnight last night.”
The IEC said it had received 260 complaints throughout the day, of which 250 were resolved. It did not say what the issues were.
There had been 97 arrests for election-related offences, but only the police would have details of these, chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya said.
Tlakula said the IEC had struggled to keep up with the high voter turnout.
“The most pressing challenge we are facing at the moment is an extremely high turnout at voting stations, especially those in urban and metro areas where long queues continue to be experienced at a number of voting stations,” she said.
“It should be remembered that we have the highest number of voters registered in South Africa’s history for this national and provincial election — 25.39 million.”
This was about 2.2 million more than those registered in 2009.
Tlakula said although the IEC had increased the number of voting stations by 10 percent, especially in rural areas, it would have to look at increasing voting centres with multiple voting streams in urban and metro areas in future elections.
“The high turnout at some stations and the long queues are also having an impact on voters seeking to vote at voting stations where they are not registered,” she said.
This was allowed according to the Electoral Act, but placed pressure on the IEC’s planning and logistics.
“We have had reports of some stations requiring additional materials. We are pleased to report that our contingency planning in this regard is holding up well and materials are able to be relatively quickly provided to voting stations where they are needed,” Tlakula said.
There were reports of ballot papers being photocopied at some stations where they had run out. She said there was no shortage of ballot papers.
IEC deputy chairman Terry Tselane said voters could object if given a photocopied ballot paper.
The last voting station opened at 2.50pm in Maruleng, Limpopo and polls close at 9pm.