At some counting stations, party agents could not agree on the final result; commissioners went to settle disputes and move the counting process along. When Kriegler arrived at a counting station, "there was a mountain... it must have been three meters high, 20 meters, 30 meters in diameter, of ballot boxes. Nobody had signed them in," he said. With the paperwork missing, and nobody knowing where the boxes came from, Kriegler decided the votes should be counted anyway. "I couldn't see any alternative," he said. "We would have had three million people who had stood for hours in the sun being disenfranchised because our process was defective, because we couldn't handle the volume of material? It could never be justified." Kriegler announced the election results on the afternoon of May 6, the final calculations still being tallied as he prepared to speak. The ANC won the election with 62.2 percent of the vote, making Mandela the country's first black president.
Speaking in 2010, the commissioners offered a variety of explanations for why the elections were successful despite the daunting challenges. Ben van der Ross stressed Kriegler's key role, but also credited the South African people: "It worked because the people of South Africa really wanted it to work." Norman du Plessis stressed the electoral commission's financial independence from outside donors -- thereby giving it flexibility. The commission ran into many problems, but the group was able to identify - and thanks to a one-year 5% tax increase pay for -- solutions, proving crucial to the elections' success. Charles Nupen emphasized the role of the Monitoring Directorate and the party liaison committee, which harnessed conflict-management skills and embedded them in the election administration. The Monitoring Directorate's oversight of the electoral process also gave confidence to the parties that both the process and the final result of the elections could be trusted.
The commission's timetable was short, but like many post-conflict countries, South Africa had to move fast. By demonstrating a high level of commitment, working closely with political parties to tackle problems head on, and seeking unique innovative solutions to last-minute glitches, the commission convinced a nation that it could believe in its founding elections.