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Generation X — young people turn up in their droves to register to vote

Generation X — young people turn up in their droves to register to vote
IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo said young voters between the ages of 20 and 29 led the pack during the voter registration weekend, making up 77% of new registrations. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Deaan Vivier)

The final voter registration weekend saw young people turning up in their numbers to make up the lion’s share of new registrations on the IEC’s voters’ roll.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has wrapped up its voter registration weekends, adding more than 1.2 million people to the voters’ roll since November.

After what IEC Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo described as a successful weekend, more than 27 million people are registered to vote in the forthcoming national and provincial elections (NPE).

generation x vote registration clearview

A first-time voter registers at the Clearview Academy voting station in Johannesburg on 18 November 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle)

Mamabolo was updating journalists at the IEC’s head office in Centurion, Tshwane, on Tuesday, 6 February on the outcome of the final registration drive.

The IEC reported that young people came out in their numbers for the registration drive, with people under the age of 29 making up 77% of the 453,000 new registrations.

There are now 4.3 million registered voters aged from 20 to 29, which is 48% of those eligible to vote in that category. 

Mamabolo said: “There has been an important reversal of the historic underrepresentation of young persons. So, at least there have been great strides made to ameliorate the historical underrepresentation of young persons in that age category.”

‘We want to make politics cool again’ — Ground Work targets young people in voter registration drive

While the numbers for all provinces have yet to be released, Mamabolo announced that KwaZulu-Natal (103,000), Gauteng (82,000) and Eastern Cape (33,000) were the top three provinces for new registrations over the weekend.

Next steps

“With two registrations under its belt, the commission now turns its focus on ramping up preparation for the NPE 2024,” Mamabolo announced.

He said political parties and independent candidates who intend to contest the election would have to part with thousands of rands to get their names on the ballot.

A political party that wants to contest the 200 compensatory seats in the National Assembly and at least one of the nine regions will have to cough up R225,000, in addition to R25,000 for each additional province.

vote registration

IEC Deputy CEO Mashego Sheburi explains how the Electoral Code of Conduct in the Electoral Act prohibits political parties from engaging in practices that threaten an election. (Photo: Magnus Nytrom)

Political parties contesting all the compensatory seats in the National Assembly and the 200 regional seats in all the nine provinces will have to pay R300,000.

For the provincial legislatures, parties must deposit R50,000 for each one contested.

Independent candidates seeking to contest the election will have to deposit R20,000 for the region they plan to contest for the National Assembly and R15,000 for provincial legislature elections.  

Voter education continues

Even though registration has concluded, Mamabolo said the IEC would continue with voter education, ramping up its programmes to the next phase.

The commission had more than 3,000 democracy education facilitators across SA tasked with providing electoral education to communities.

Now that the physical registration phase had ended, the programmes would shift from the importance of registering to voter education and ballot education, Mamabolo said. 

voter registration

A DA desk in Cape Town on 3 February 2024, the final voter registration weekend. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images)

The voter education drive would include animations on online platforms to illustrate how many ballots there would be in the election, how to mark the ballots and other related issues.

“That’s an important intervention in our view because young people who are coming on the voter roll for the first time need to be given information about the technical and correct manner in which to mark a ballot,” Mamabolo said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Party leaders woo voters as more than a million turn up for registration weekend

The IEC will continue the activations it has been hosting at institutions of higher learning since the beginning of the year, in addition to a school democracy week, which will be hosted in April to teach learners about the electoral system.

South Africans who missed the opportunity to register over the weekend can still get their names on the voters’ roll through the IEC’s online voter portal, which will remain open until President Cyril Ramaphosa proclaims and gazettes the official election date, which Ramaphosa said would happen “soon”. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • mike van wyk says:

    The IEC should massively drive youth registration online. It is not uncommon within mature democracies that a small percentage of the eligible voting population register. However, SA is far from a mature democracy and the importance of participating in election should be a focal point for the IEC.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    A puff article….of course most new voters would be younger….the others are registered already

    • jason du toit says:

      “There has been an important reversal of the historic underrepresentation of young persons.”

      historically, young voters have been underrepresented (as a percentage of their age cohort). it is important for young people to participate. the article was informative for me and gave me some insight into what this election year might look at.

      your cynical take on it adds little value to the discussion.

  • Promise Hope says:

    Generation X (in the title) refers to people born from around 1965 until about 1980 (current age approx. 43-58). Yet the article reports on voters the age of 20-29 (late Gen Y/Millenials to early Gen Z).

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


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