Youth surge in voter registration may favour the EFF

LONDON  – Another 700,000 people have been added to the voters role in South Africa during the final registration weekend and more than 80% were under the age of 30. Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema must be elated as he believes that young people who are disillusioned with the ANC are going to flock to the ‘corruption buster’ party and he may be right unless they remember the VBS-bank scandal. Judging from the election campaign, most parties are targeting this demographic. President Cyril Ramaphosa used his New Year’s message to urge the youth to register to vote. The province which registered the most new voters is KwaZulu-Natal with a total of 5.5m or 20.7% of the electorate which means it is edging closer to Gauteng numbers which has 6.6m voters representing 23.8% of the total. Registration can still be done at IEC offices in South Africa until the election date is promulgated, while South Africans abroad can register from 1 to 4 February. The Democratic Alliance has tried to pressurise the ANC to make it easier for expats to vote overseas as almost 85% of votes in the 2014 elections went to the DA. – Linda van Tilburg

IEC media statement

The Electoral Commission is pleased to report that over 700,000 new voters registered during the final registration weekend, bringing the total number of registered voters on the voters’ roll to 26,727,921.

Most encouragingly, of the 703,794 new registrations over 81% (574,899) are under 30 years old. This means that the youth have heeded the call to register.

Combined with new registrations during the March 2018 registration weekend, the voters’ roll has seen 1,194,314 new voters added ahead of the upcoming elections.

Of these new voters, 52% are women and 48% are men. Nearly half (49.2%) are aged 20 – 29, 26.6% are aged 18 – 19 and 5.9% are aged 16 – 17.

Over the past weekend KwaZulu-Natal registered the highest number of new registrations (179,097) followed by Gauteng (176,953) and the Eastern Cape (130,959).

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In terms of the total voters’ roll, Gauteng has the most registered voters (6,366,629 or 23.8% of the total voters’ roll followed by KwaZulu-Natal (5,525,222 or 20.7%), Eastern Cape (3,365,821 or 12.6%), Western Cape (3,120,239 or 11.7%), Limpopo (2,607,294 or 9.75%), Mpumalanga (1,949,163 or 7.3%), North West (1,703,795 or 6.37%), Free State (1,463,790 or 5.47%) and Northern Cape (625,968 or 2.34%).

In addition to new registrations, 1,078,416 voters used the weekend to register in a new voting district and 690,310 voters confirmed their registration in the same voting district.

Over 50,000 voters also used the online “Click, Check and Confirm” facility to update their address details over the weekend and over 265,000 have used the facility since it was introduced in 2017.

In total 2,472,520 voters were assisted at South Africa’s 22,925 voting stations over the weekend. Of these 65% visited a voting station on Sunday with a last minute rush over of the final few hours.

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Based on latest voting age population estimates from Statistics South Africa, the current voters’ roll reflects a total registration by 74.5% of the eligible population.

The Electoral Commission is pleased with the overall registration level which remains high by international standards for countries with a voluntary registration system. However, the Commission remains concerned that approximately 9.8m eligible voters are still not registered of which approximately 6m are under 30 years old.

The Electoral Commission hopes young voters will make use of the short window of opportunity ahead of proclamation to still register at local IEC offices. Once the elections are proclaimed – expected during February – the voters’ roll will close for these elections.

The Electoral Commission will be undertaking registration drives at higher learning campuses in early February to further boost registrations and will continue its communication and education efforts until the last possible moment.

Registration is also continuing at South African missions abroad for citizens living outside the country where a registration drive will be held from 1 – 4 February.