“System is down” — Election outages frustrate South African voters


Election officials at some voting stations around South Africa told voters on Monday that they could not vote due to a national Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) system outage, and that they should try again later.

MyBroadband received reports from Meyerspark Primary School that a system outage prevented officials from allowing voters to cast their ballots.

Voters in Centurion’s Ward 58 were told the same thing at the Lyttelton Primary voting station — they couldn’t vote because of a system outage.

The queue at the Louis Leipoldt voting station in that ward was around the block.

Similar complaints were posted on social media from all over South Africa.

“In Kuils River, Jagtershof [near Cape Town] the waiting time to vote is 5hrs. Your system keeps going offline,” Satish Byrow said on Twitter.

“Went to vote at Saxonwold Primary and got told the system is nationally offline. Will try again in a little while,” said Aaisha Dadi Patel.

“Tried to vote bathi system is offline so they now have to check the names from a printed voter’s roll,” Simphiwe said.

Reyhana from Lenasia said they were told the same thing: “Absolutely inefficient voting stations as expected ‘System is offline’ at Harmony Primary in Lenasia. Should have just let us know they didn’t want us to vote today.”

It is curious that some voters were told they could not vote due to downtime of the IEC’s systems.

In September, the IEC’s tested new voter management devices, which has an offline mode for when they lose connectivity.

“The VMDs will essentially operate in online mode in most parts of the country,” the commission stated.

“In parts of the country where Internet connection is not strong or reliable, the VMDs have been provisioned to operate in offline mode.”

The IEC explained that in offline mode, the devices would record transactions and perform verification based on data stored locally on each device.

However, the reported IEC system outage was not the only problem frustrating voters at the polls today.

Several South Africans complained on social media that they were denied the chance to vote because of problems with their voter registration data in the IEC’s system.

Complaints ranged from voting locations not being correctly updated, to new voters who had registered in September not being in the system.

In both these scenarios, the voters were not allowed to cast their ballot.

These complaints come after a chaotic voter registration weekend.

According to the IEC, a problem relating to the mapping functionality on its website caused headaches, but was resolved through the course of the morning on 18 September.

There were also reports that the IEC’s voter registration stations were experiencing problems with the new voter management devices (VMDs) experiencing network problems.

The IEC confirmed that the issue relating to mapping functionality was also impacting the VMDs.

While there were many complaints about the IEC’s systems on election day, many voters also said their experience was painless.

Several callers to radio station 702 said that they had no problems in Bedford View. Others posted their marked thumbs to social media, saying that they could walk in and cast their vote within five minutes.

Some voters said that there were long queues in their wards but that it kept moving, even if slowly.

MyBroadband contacted the IEC for comment. It acknowledged our query but did not provide feedback by publication.

Now read: Big election changes proposed for South Africa

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