South Africa

2024 election: Voter registration deadline looms

Voter registration deadline looms

With 29 May announced as the date of general election, an intense programme of the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) is about to begin – and eligible voters have until tomorrow to register.

Eligible votes have until Friday to register

Chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said: “The IEC reminds South Africans that, while the date has been set and announced, eligible voters have until Friday, 23 February to register.

“Unregistered voters and those who need to update their address details can visit the local municipality office of the [IEC] or go to the online voter portal.”

The last in-person voter registration weekend was on 3 to 4 February, and it targeted local and overseas-based voters.

The commission also aims to attract young people to register because many believe they are apathetic when it comes to the democratic process.

ALSO READ: IEC on why 2024 elections will be different

The proclamation of the election date paved the way for the commission to publish the election timetable in the Government Gazette, and that would happen after all parties were consulted through the national party liaison committee.

“The election timetable will outline the various cut-off dates for the performance of certain electoral activities,” Mamabolo said.

Brief timeline

A brief timeline, released by the IEC yesterday but with no specific dates, indicates that after the closure of the voter’s roll, there would be a certification of the roll, the publication of details of voting stations, submission of candidates’ nominations and notice to voters outside the country, as well as the processing of applications for special votes.

“The electoral commission reminds eligible voters of the general rule in elections. That is, a person must register where they live, and vote at the voting station where they are registered.

“The only exception to the rule is that a voter may vote outside of the voting district of registration upon notifying the electoral commission by a date to be regulated by the election timetable,” Mamabolo said.

ALSO READ: 29 May: Election date reignites calls for South Africans to register to vote

Election date announcement welcomed

Policy analyst and election monitoring specialist Dr Nkosikhulule Nyembezi welcomed the announcement, saying the country was getting into election mode.

Ramaphosa’s announcement would only intensify the noise from political parties.

“The announcement’s timing is welcome and will give relevant key stakeholders time to participate in the preparations,” said Nyembezi.

“This is not just because South Africa needs a new government, although it does, but because, as voters, we should not be condemned to a protracted election campaign that the Sona [State of the Nation Address] events have so obviously signalled.

“The country seems to know its own mind, it will soon be time to bring it on in these elections, for all our sakes.”

ALSO READ: Election date confirmed: SA’s 2024 general elections set for 29 May

Political parties in full election mode

Nyembezi said noone who watched the Sona and its debate last week could doubt that the major parties are now in full election mode.

Ramaphosa’s announcements were a classic pre-election “appreciate the present, hope for a better tomorrow” package aimed at seducing voters and embarrassing the opposition.

“Maybe it is the 29 May goalpost that will keep election campaigns civil. Amid the shouting of the major parties, the rival pitches of small parties are familiar.

“Opposition parties are now in an election battle formation of their own, too, with the EFF boycotting Sona and embarking on a campaign roadshow instead.

“The DA is poised to make embarrassing comments about the ANC’s corrupt cadres deployment practice,” Nyembezi said.

ALSO READ: Analyst likens politicians to reptiles: ‘MK, PA, EFF and DA are all the same’

Voter’s roll has to be closer within 48 hours after date announcement

In terms of procedure, the voter’s roll has to be closed within 48 hours after the date’s announcement and that would be tomorrow.

While the in-person voting station-based registration would stop tomorrow, the registration process would continue online and at the election offices at local municipalities.

The IEC confirmed that 27.6 million voters were registered at the last count. It attributed the latest growth in voter registration numbers – the highest since 1994 – to the commission’s campaign drive.