The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in the Western Cape says it is closely monitoring COVID-19 developments in the country, in the run-up to local government elections, expected to be held in October.

The pandemic has disrupted preparations for the upcoming elections, causing the next voter registration weekend to be delayed by two weeks.

Whether or not the Local Government Elections (LGE) will go ahead in October, is yet to be confirmed. A third wave of COVID-19 infections and new variants of the disease are the biggest challenges standing in the way of elections going ahead.

Addressing a webinar, the IEC in the Western Cape says it is confident that it will be fully prepared and all the necessary staff will be trained by October. Provincial Electoral Officer, Michael Hendrickse, says the training of staff will continue.

“I’m confident that we will get to our staff and we’ve got this period where we are now and training will continue over this weekend, carrying on, so yes I am confident that we will make sure that all our staff is trained. It is essentially two-person per registration station and I am sure we are going to get there, a lot of these staff members are staff members that have previously worked for us as well.”

New technology, such as a device for registration and an updated website will be used to increase registration numbers and improve voter turnout.

The Western Cape currently has around 3 million registered voters on its voters’ roll. Only 3 400 of whom fall in the 18 to 19-year-old category.

Hendrickse says they are now working on ways to attract more voters in this category.

“You’ve seen we’ve been working towards online and maybe that will help as well because young people are generally more tech-savvy and they generally will be more willing to just go online and register, so that also will then assist us that.”

In the province, 406 wards and 381 Proportional Representation Seats will be contested in the upcoming elections.

For more on this, see the full statement below: