The Electoral Commission has announced the dates for its second and final voter registration weekend for the 2019 national and provincial elections.
The country’s 22 932 voting stations will open from8am to 5pm on Saturday 26 January and Sunday 27 January 2019 to allow new voters to register and existing voters to update and to check their registration details.
The Chairperson of the Commission Glen Mashinini announced the dates at the media conference in Centurion 7 November 2018.
The media conference was also used to introduce the three new commissioners appointed by the President following the recommendation of the National Assembly and an extensive interview process conducted by a panel chaired by the Chief Justice and comprising heads of institutions supporting democracy.
The new commissioners are Dr Nomsa Masuku, who until her appointment served as Deputy Chief Electoral Officer for Outreach, Mr Mosotho Moepya, the former Chief Electoral Officer, and Judge Dhaya Pillay of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court.
They replace Terry Tselane, Bongani Finca and Thami Makhanya whose seven-year terms came to an end this year. The term of the new commissioners is effective from 5 November 2018. The Commission paid tribute to the outgoing commissioners acknowledging their commitment and outstanding service to electoral democracy in the Republic.
The Commission noted the designation of Commissioner Janet Love as Vice-Chairperson of the Commission.
The Electoral Commission also announced the release of the Atlas of Results for the 2016 Municipal Elections. The Atlas is a compilation of voting data from the elections presented geographically by province, municipality, ward and voting district and can be used by political parties to analyse their and other parties’ electoral performance in the 2016 elections. This can be a useful tool to help plan and refine their campaign strategies for the upcoming and future elections.
The Atlas is available electronically for download from the Electoral Commission’s website at www.elections.org.za
Regarding the voter registration for next year’s elections, the Electoral Commission said there are currently 26.1 million registered voters on the national common voters roll and Mashinini said it was his hope that at least one million voters would be added to the voters roll ahead of the 2019 elections.
The Electoral Commission is also hopeful that voters who are already registered will use the opportunity to visit their voting station to check their registration and specifically to confirm and update their address details.
This forms part of the ongoing drive to ensure the voters’ roll is ready for the elections in line with the 2016 order of the Constitutional Court. Over the past two years the Electoral Commission has added over 13 million addresses to the voters roll through a variety of initiatives bringing the total number of voters with addresses on the voters roll to 21.4 million (82%) from just 8.4 million (32%) in March 2016.
All South Africa citizens aged 16 and older in possession of an official ID document can register as voters (although only those who are at least 18 years old on voting day may vote).
Voters should take a copy of their bar-coded ID book, smart card ID or temporary ID certificate when they go to register in the voting district in which they ordinarily reside.
When registering, voters will need to provide their address or a description of where they live to allow the Electoral Commission to place them on the correct segment of the voters’ roll. However, documentation or proof of address is not required.
A registration weekend is also being planned for voters living abroad at South Africa’s 120 High Commissions, embassies and consulates. The Electoral Commission will announce dates once final arrangements have been concluded with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
The overseas registration weekend is likely to take place just before or just after the South Africa weekend and will accommodate countries which have a weekend on Friday and Saturday.
Voter registration will also be conducted in January in Correctional Centres around the country to allow prisoners to exercise their right to vote. For voting purposes, prisoners are regarded as being registered to vote in the voting district in which their prison is located. Families members of those who are incarcerated in correctional facilities are requested to deliver their identity documents to them ahead of this registration drive.
In terms of the Constitution, the term of the current National Assembly and provincial legislatures ends on 6 May 2019 and elections must be held within 90 days thereafter. This means the elections must be held between 7 May and 5 August 2019.
The President recently indicated his intention to proclaim elections before the end of May next year but is expected to announce the exact date sometime in the future.
The Electoral Commission will be supporting the registration drive with the roll-out of national communication and education campaign to encourage participation. A key thrust of the campaign will be urging young, first-time voters to register.
Currently the lowest voter registration levels are for voters aged 18-19 (15.6% of estimated eligible population) and 20-29 (56.7% of estimated eligible population).
The Electoral Commission Contact Centre will also be activated ahead of the national registration weekend and will be operational until after the registration weekend to assist citizens to register and vote.
The Electoral Commission appeals to all stakeholders including political parties, government departments and entities, the media and civil society organisations including labour, business, NGOs, religious-based organisations, traditional leaders and all community organisations to support the registration drive and encourage voter registration ahead of the elections.
Registered voters can visit the Electoral Commission website (www.elections.org.za) to check their current registration details and voting station location. They can also SMS their ID number to 32810 to receive an SMS containing the address of their voting station (charged at R1).
An online facility (www.elections.org.za/MyIEC) is also available for registered voters with access to the internet to update and review their address online.
Unregistered voters can insert their address in the Voting Station Finder application on the website (http://maps.elections.org.za/vsfinder/) to find their correct voting station or call the Contact Centre.