All tech set for election day

Audra Mahlong
By Audra Mahlong, senior journalist
Johannesburg, 21 Apr 2009

Technology requirements for tomorrow's elections have been met and no problems should be experienced in the next 48 hours, says the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela says technology is key to the smooth running of tomorrow's elections - and registration periods have showed no problems should be experienced tomorrow. There will be nearly 20 000 voting stations across SA, an increase from just over 14 500 in the 1999 elections.

The IEC allocated R200 million to technology to be used during the national elections. The majority of this budget was used to purchase 30 000 handheld ID scanning units. In November, the IEC allocated an extra R3 million to resolve Web site problems.

Browser trouble

The IEC says all issues experienced with its Web site were fixed in time for the second registration drive, which took place in February. In August 2008, complaints regarding the IEC Web site surfaced, as non-Microsoft users struggled to gain access to the site.

The Web site previously denied access to users of non-Microsoft browsers, such as Netscape, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, as it was based on Microsoft's Internet Explorer system. Upgrades were completed in January.

“We have ensured the Web site does not restrict access, so all South Africans have equal access,” Bapela states.

Capacity woes

During the voter registration weekend and in the week leading up to it in November 2008, the IEC Web site crashed as it was unable to handle the number of visitors to the site. Over a million visitors logged onto the site and the surge resulted in the system crashing.

Bapela says the IEC cannot speculate as to how many hits the Web site will receive in the period running up to election day. She adds that the millions of hits, which were registered in both voter registration weekends, are a good indication of the numbers that could be expected.

“We have increased capacity of the Web site to ensure it can handle any increases in usage,” says Bapela.

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