IEC announces voter registration dates

29th August 2003

The Independent Electoral Commission has set aside the weekend of November 8-9, for voter registration for the 2004 elections. Speaking to reporters in Johannesburg today, IEC chairperson Brigalia Bam called on eligible voters, especially the youth, to acquire their Identity Documents (IDs) in order to be able to vote. She said in order to vote a person’s name must appear on the voters’ roll and they must have a green identity document with a bar code. A date for the election has not yet been fixed and President Thabo Mbeki is expected to fix a date in consultation with the IEC and the Department of Provincial and Local Government.

She said the IEC was however preparing for an April election with the latest possible date for the election being in September. The call for voters to acquire their IDs comes amid a massive ongoing drive by government for people to acquire the documents, the cost of which will be shouldered by the Home Affairs department. According to census 2001, a significant number of eligible voters are yet to register their names on the voters’ roll.

Currently, about one per cent of 18 and 19-year-olds have entered their names as voters for next year’s elections.

The voters’ roll has decreased from 18,4-million to about 17,9-million as a result of the normal death rate since the last elections.

Bam said the challenge that remained was improving access to voting stations especially in rural and informal settlements.

She said the number of polling stations had been increased to 17 000 from 14 9998, which operated in the municipal elections of 2000.

This would help shorten the distance that rural voters, especially the elderly had to walk. She allayed fears that the next elections would see a low voter turnout, saying that as people were in the past deprived of voting, the exercise was now an ‘exciting’ one for them, hence voter apathy would be minimal.

The country’s elections have witnessed a consistent voter turnout in the first and second polls despite the world trend of low voter turnout in the following years.

About 86,6% of the population turned out in 1994 while 89,3% voted in 1999.

Bam said South Africans abroad at the time of the elections, with the exception of those performing official duties, would not be allowed to vote.

However, the issue of extending the vote to prisoners has not yet been finalised. – BuaNews.