Tomorrow is election day and the country will become a network of hope, change and unity. To make sure that each of the 23.5-million votes cast will count – literally at least – there are three people and their teams who have been working tirelessly. They are Libisi Maphanga, the chief information officer for the Independent Electoral Commission, and his ICT heads Mervin Naidoo and Melanie du Plessis.
Naidoo, responsible for IT operations and Du Plessis, responsible for business systems, rattle off staggering numbers related to the setup. “There are actually 278 different elections [one for each municipality] taking place in the country tomorrow at 20859 voting stations,” says Du Plessis. Then there are 200000 staff who have to be managed, 70.5-million ballot papers to be printed, and distributed and the multimillion votes which have to be counted, captured and audited before we all hear the results.
Maphanga says much of the voting process is manual. “As a technical person, I’d have loved to automate everything. But to be compliant with the acts [and the Constitution] and for the voter to be assured their secrecy is guaranteed and their vote does not change along the way, we have to use manual counterchecks. ”
The tech end is world-class, however. The “impressive” geographic information system means the IEC has aerial photography of almost the entire country. These images are used to check the topography of the area and identify possible impediments to the voting stations. For example, voters should not have to climb mountains or swim through rivers to get to their voting stations.
The vote counting process is a manual, labour-intensive process, with several checks. When the information becomes electronic, “it is captured and audited, per voting station and ballot paper for each party or candidate. We publish these results as they come in, on the website and internal network which political parties and the media can access at the ROC”, Maphanga says.
Full Article: Ready for your vote – Times LIVE.