Everything you need to know to make your vote count in SA’s third democratic elections on 14 April.Independent Electoral CommissionOur elections are run by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), a permanent body established by law to promote and safeguard our democracy.More on the IECVoter registration call centre:0800 11 8000 (toll-free, 6am-9pm)For anything you need to know about registering and voting.The IEC runs an excellent website where you can get the latest election or by-election news, past election results, information on political parties, election legislation and more:Frequently asked questionsAm I registered / Where am I registerd to vote? – enter your ID number and click to find out.Contact the IECPolitical partiesThirty-two political parties have registered to contest the election: 11 at both national level and in all nine provinces, 7 at both national level and in selected provinces, and 14 parties in selected provincial elections only.List of parties, with websites and contactsAm I registered to vote?If you’re on the Voter’s Roll, you’re registered to vote. You should check the Roll to see if you’re registered and to make sure your details have been correctly entered – in particular, that you’re registered to vote in the area in which you live (your home area, the area to which you return after temporary periods of absence).To check the Voter’s Roll online, follow this link. You can also inspect the Voter’s Roll at the office of the municipal electoral officer in the voting district where you live – check the IEC contactsWhere do I vote?You can only vote in the district for which you registered – your name will only appear only on that part of the Voters’ Roll devoted to this district. To check where to vote online, follow this link.What is the voting procedure?Voters queue outside their voting station entrance, and their names are checked against the Voters’ Roll as they enter the station. To prevent cheating, a voter’s thumb is examined under an ultra-violet scanner for traces of the indelible ink that is applied to everyone who has voted.Voters are then issued with two ballot papers, one to elect members of the National Assembly, the other to elect members of the relevant provincial legislature. Each ballot paper has a list of all registered political parties contesting the elections. Alongside each party name is the photograph of its leader, the party’s logo and a block in which voters can make their mark.Each voter enters a private cubicle to cast their vote. A voter is allowed to make only one mark on each ballot paper for a party of their choice. Only a tick or a cross is acceptable in the appropriate box next to the chosen party. A mark anywhere else will spoil the ballot paper and so nullify the vote.Voters do NOT have to vote for the same party for the National Assembly and their province’s legislature, though they can do so if they wish. After making their choice, voters deposit their ballot papers in a sealed ballot box and leave the station.Special votesSection 33 of the Electoral Act provides for special votes for persons who cannot get to the voting stations on voting day as a result of:Physical infirmity, disability and pregnancy;Absence on government service abroad;Being an election official on election day;Being a member of the security services performing election duty;South Africans temporarily aboard.Physically infirm, disabled and pregnant voters may apply for a special vote either with the Municipal Electoral Officer (before 8 April) or at the Office of the Presiding Officer (on 12 April) in the voting district in which they are registered.These people will be visited by IEC officials at the place they indicated on their application form on 12 and 13 April.Election officials and security force members will apply and cast their vote at the Office of the Presiding Officer of their voting district on 12 and 13 April.Persons who are absent on government service abroad, as well as South Africans who are temporarily absent from the country, (and who notified the Chief Electoral Officer by 26 February) will apply and vote at foreign missions on 7 April.How does the IEC ensure that elections run smoothly?The IEC is responsible for all the logistics of running elections, include setting up voting stations in the most remote rural areas, installing telecommunications facilities such as telephones and fax machines, and setting up a computer network to link all voting stations.More importantly, however, are the preparations that the commission puts into the holding of elections. Thousands of officials – presiding officers, counting officers, volunteers and monitors – are trained for specific tasks and posted at voting stations on election days to carry out these tasks.How is the fairness of elections determined?The Electoral Act of 1998 makes specific provision for accrediting neutral observers for South African elections.The 1999 elections, for instance, were observed by about 11 000 neutral observers, 369 of whom were from abroad. The international observers included organisations such as the Organisation of African Unity, the European Parliamentarians for Africa and the Southern Africa Development Community.The United Nations Electoral Assistance Division helped the IEC with co-ordinating the international observers, while the South African Council of Churches co-ordinated the local observers.Only organisations can apply to the IEC to observe elections. Observer missions compile a report and announce their findings about the conduct of the elections and whether the poll was free and fair.In addition, political parties contesting the elections are entitled to have monitors at voting stations to ensure compliance with voting procedures. Party monitors and observers also keep a watchful eye on the counting process after the close of the vote.