Pretoria – On the eve of the 2016 Local Government Elections voter registration weekend, the Independent Electoral Commission says it hopes that at least one million new voters will register to make their mark before the voter’s roll closes.
A total of 22 570 voting stations will be open across the country from 8am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday for South Africans to register to vote or to verify if they are registered to vote.
The Electoral Commission said on Thursday it was targeting the youth to participate in voting as this group remains under-represented in the voter’s roll.
To be able to vote, you must register as a voter. Once you have registered, your details will appear on the voters’ roll. The voters’ roll helps the commission plan the election and identify fraud as it shows how many voters to expect in each voting district.
Statistics show that South Africa’s voter’s roll currently has approximately 25 million voters.
Electoral Commission Chief Electoral Officer Mosotho Moepya said based on the latest voting age population estimates provided by Statistics South Africa, there are currently approximately 34 million South African citizens of voting age, placing the current registration level at 73 percent of all eligible voters.
Moepya was concerned at the number of unregistered eligible voters, which amounts to approximately nine million.
Gauteng has the highest number of unregistered voters with 2.7 million, KwaZulu-Natal with 1.4 million and the Western Cape with 1.2 million. The Northern Cape has the lowest with 0.2 million.
This comprises approximately 1.5 million eligible voters aged between 18 and 19 years old; 4.3 million are aged between 20 and 29 years old; 1.6 million are aged between 30 – 39 years old; 0.8 million are aged 40 and 49 years old and one million are aged over 50 years old.
Gauteng also recorded the highest number of registered voters standing at 5 937 471, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 5 056 518, and Eastern Cape with 3 161 535.
“But the statistics also show that almost one in three unregistered voters lives in Gauteng,” said Moepya.
The Western Cape has 2 900 567 registered voters, followed by Limpopo with 2 436 112, and Mpumalanga with 1 827 935.
The province with the lowest number of registered voters is the Northern Cape with 584 830, followed by Free State with 1 418 288, and North West 1 651 242.
This year, the Electoral Commission will have 1 711 more voting stations open across the country. This is an increase of 8.2 percent when the municipal elections were held in 2011.
Moepya said the voting stations serve voting districts covering 4 392 wards, which is up to 2.7 percent since 2011.
“The increase in voting stations reflects not only the increase in wards following the municipal demarcation process but is also part of the on-going efforts by the Electoral Commission to enhance accessibility to voters,” he said.
Moepyane said the majority of stations will be held at schools, community and civic halls, places of worship and other community venues.
Some stations will be set up at temporary facilities such as tents and other temporary structures in the absence of fixed structures.
A total of 51 849 officials will be deployed to assist eligible voters over the registration weekend, and each voting station will be staffed by two officials.
“This is a 12 percent increase from the previous registration weekend held ahead of the 2014 National and Provincial Elections in November 2013,” said Moepya.
He said voting station staff are identifiable by their white t-shirts bearing the IEC logo on the front and 2016 Municipal Elections logo and “Register to Vote” on the back.