Attracting young South Africans to register to vote in this year’s national and provincial elections is among the Independent Electoral Commission’s top priorities as it seeks to deliver a credible election.
This much is apparent in the IEC’s election campaign launched in Midrand on Thursday. Colloquially phrased “X’se, your x is your say”, the campaign seeks to attract mostly youth but it has an appeal across all generations, the IEC said.
Speaking at the launch, IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini said another priority was to ensure that the election was credible and free and fair.
People below the age of 30 remain least active in the elections, with only 16% of those between 18 and 19 voting and 54% of those between 20 and 29 voting. Age groups over 30 have an 80% voting rate.
Mashinini appealed to every party, candidate, representative as well as voters to do everything in their power to maintain free, fair and credible elections.
“… [A] critical factor is the integrity of the voters’ roll… If it is flawed, the subsequent events are already flawed,” he said.
Mashinini said the commission’s preparations are at an advanced stage and it has taken all measures to ensure that there is a credible voters’ roll.
“We have moved from 34% of voters being compliant with the Constitutional Court ruling [of having addresses for all voters]. We are now sitting at 83%. That’s a major accomplishment that has been achieved. As the commission, we are saying one person without an address is still one person too many.”
Mashinini said the commission would leave no stone unturned in its quest to achieve the highest possible registration levels of voters.
“We appeal for continued support from all our partners. We are appealing to South Africans to seize the moment and taken advantage of this opportunity to make sure that they are correctly registered.”
The issue of the integrity of the entire value chain of the electoral process — from the time of compilation of the voters’ roll and registration, to the time of counting, transmission of the electoral results and finalisation of the results — was another area of concentration for the commission.
Mashinini said over 200 000 staff/volunteers would participate in the organising of the election.
He said the 2019 election campaign will focus primarily on young people.
“It has been designed by young people, with young people, for young people. We therefore hope that they will be in a position to attract as many South Africans as possible, especially young people.”
Regarding security, Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo said the IEC is continuously working to improve the voters’ roll.
“The voter registration weekend [on 26 and 27 January] provides us a unique opportunity to deal with the address issue. Currently, there’s about 1.6 million people on the roll for whom we don’t have an address. Part of this campaign is to encourage them to come during the voter registration weekend to provide that,” he said.