The government intervention in Bophuthatswana caused at least one potential spoiler to join the electoral process. According to Kriegler, circulated footage of the far-right AWB members being shot point-blank in the conflict "put the fear of God into a lot of the right-wing." The AVF, the AWB's companions in the botched intervention in Bophuthatswana, then joined the elections under the party name Freedom Front. Nupen said that this was a "critically important watershed, because if they had become an abiding, destabilizing element, it would have made [the electoral process] very, very difficult."
To be as inclusive as possible, commissioners sometimes bent the rules in order to draw these disaffected parties into the electoral process. When the Freedom Front came to register, the commission extended the registration deadline so that it could submit its papers. The commission also extended the deadline for the Pan Africanist Congress. Kriegler remembered the head of the Pan Africanist Congress coming in with the registration documents after the midnight deadline: "There was the clock showing 20 to 1:00 in the morning, and du Plessis saying, 'It looks like five to 12:00 to me.'"
More challenging than bringing the white right into the electoral process, however, was persuading the leader of the KwaZulu homeland and the Inkatha Freedom Party to join the elections. Violent clashes continued between ANC and IFP supporters in the weeks before the elections, increasing concerns that the electoral administration in KwaZulu would be seriously compromised -- particularly as staff had already been taken hostage and even caught in the crossfire of a shootout. About a week before the elections, IFP leader Buthelezi agreed that his party would participate. However, the commission had to address the implications of the last-minute changes, such as issuing an additional 700,000 temporary voter cards in KwaZulu-Natal within the span of four days. Between 600 and 700 more polling stations also had to be identified, set up, and staffed. In the last two days before the elections, the commission recruited 13,000 additional staff. It also had to modify the already-printed ballots, affixing millions of IFP stickers at the bottom of each ballot -- and had to compensate the National Party, which originally occupied the bottom spot of the ballots and had run an entire election campaign highlighting this fact.
Voting day itself was met with numerous obstacles. The polls opened a day early to allow the elderly, hospital patients, and the electoral staff to vote. What the commission had not bargained on was the hundreds of thousands who turned up, even though the polls were not open for regular voters. "So what does the presiding officer do?" Kriegler asked. "He says, 'Come in my brothers, come and vote.'" The early opening of many polling stations, combined with the absence of a voter roll, led to a shortage of ballots in many areas. Polling stations in some areas were unable to function because of the shortages.
The commission agreed to extend the voting to ensure everyone would get the chance to vote. It also had to arrange for many more ballots to be printed. Ballot boxes also were in short supply, forcing many presiding officers to take unconventional measures to store the completed ballots, opening closed boxes and restacking the papers to make more room. Voters' fingers were marked with ink that would show up under ultraviolet light, an important measure to prevent people from voting twice. The commission decided to use ultraviolet ink with Kwazulu in mind: Before the IFP rejoined the elections, officials worried that marking voters' fingers with visible ink would make them vulnerable to attack. If the IFP was not on the ballot, then anybody who cast a vote would necessarily be supporting the opposition -- visible ink would help the IFP's henchmen figure out who needed to be reprimanded. But as voting got under way, supplies of ultraviolet ink quickly ran out. The forensic department of the police worked quickly on manufacturing and duplicating the special ink.
The commission was forced to rely on various officials at the polling stations to resolve other problems that continued to crop up. The communications infrastructure was so limited, especially in rural areas, that the commission could not be involved in sorting out every problem. Even international election observers, in a breach of normal protocols, adopted a hands-on approach, guiding and assisting local-level election officials at moments when observers would usually just take notes.
The votes then had to be counted. The electoral commission had decided they would be counted in central counting stations (rather than where the votes were cast), but the number was far from enough. Consequently, some counting stations faced enormous tasks. One in Johannesburg, for example, tallied three million votes, representing about 15 percent of the electorate. The electoral commission had devised a series of procedures to ensure that each ballot box could be traced back to its polling station. The problems started when exhausted electoral workers showed up at the counting stations to drop off the ballot boxes. "These people had been on duty for 48 and 72 hours. They weren't going to go and sit in a long line, waiting another four or five hours while hundreds of ballot boxes are being signed in and stamped," Kriegler said. "They came in and they said, ‘Here are your boxes. We've done our job.'"