Low youth reg­is­tra­tion a con­cern

IEC plans to draw in the young­sters

Sowetan - - News - By Zingisa Mvumvu

The In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC)’s chief elec­toral of­fi­cer Sy Mam­abolo said yes­ter­day alarm­ingly low reg­is­tra­tion by young vot­ers was cause for con­cern. Mam­abolo re­vealed at a me­dia con­fer­ence at the IEC head of­fice in Cen­tu­rion yes­ter­day that only 15.6% of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers in the 18 and 19year-old age group were reg­is­tered to vote.

As if this was not a big enough con­cern‚ there were only 56.7% el­i­gi­ble vot­ers in the 20 to 29 age group who ap­peared on the na­tional vot­ers’ roll – six months be­fore next year’s elec­tions. “The Elec­toral Com­mis­sion will be sup­port­ing the reg­is­tra­tion drive with the roll-out of a na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion and ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign to en­cour­age par­tic­i­pa­tion. A key thrust of the cam­paign will be urg­ing young‚ first­time vot­ers to reg­is­ter.” The IEC also an­nounced that its fi­nal reg­is­tra­tion week­end was set for Jan­uary 26 and 27. Mam­abolo said their cam­paign to tackle ap­a­thy among first-time vot­ers would tar­get uni­ver­si­ties as soon as they re­opened in the new year. How­ever‚ it was go­ing to be a chal­lenge with the fi­nal reg­is­tra­tion week­end set for a date fall­ing be­fore the start of the aca­demic year in many in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Mam­abolo‚ reg­is­tra­tion for vot­ers liv­ing abroad and that of pris­on­ers would also be con­ducted in

Jan­uary‚ ei­ther be­fore or af­ter that of the gen­eral vot­ers. The IEC was con­fi­dent‚ as per the pres­i­dent’s procla­ma­tion‚ that elec­tions would take place in May – and had thus de­vel­oped time­line of events lead­ing up to the big day.

IEC chair Glen Mashinini said af­ter the reg­is­tra­tion in late Jan­uary they ex­pected Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa‚ in Fe­bru­ary‚ to pro­claim the elec­tion date.

In March and April‚ con­test­ing po­lit­i­cal par­ties will be

ex­pected to sub­mit names of can­di­dates for na­tional par­lia­ment and pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tures while bal­lot pa­pers will be drawn dur­ing the same pe­riod. The IEC would then pro­ceed to set up re­sults cen­tres across the coun­try in May.

/AN­TO­NIO MUCHAVE

The In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion is set for na­tional voter reg­is­tra­tion drive aimed mainly at en­tic­ing the re­luc­tant youth to par­tic­i­pate in the next gen­eral elec­tion next year.

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