The Electoral Commission has officially launched the 2019 National and Provincial Elections with an innovative communication and education campaign aimed at encouraging South Africa’s youth to register and vote.
The campaign was unveiled at an event at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg today attended by leaders of political parties, government officials, representatives of civil society, members of the diplomatic corps, the media and other stakeholders.
The campaign, which launched across television, radio, digital and outdoor channels throughout the country today, is intended to grab the attention of young and first-time voters.
Despite representing over 50 percent of the population, South Africans aged under 30 years old have the lowest levels of voter registration.
“The young people of South Africa comprise an increasingly powerful and crucial segment of our economy, our culture, our democracy and our country. But until they register and vote they are unable exercise their right to participate in choosing the future of our country,” said Electoral Commission Chairperson Mr Glen Mashinini.
The campaign features young South Africans from all walks of life expressing their reasons for the importance of voting in the upcoming elections under a newly-created word: Xsê
“We zoned in on a phrase that is uniquely South African. It’s cool and can be used easily by anyone across the culture lines. It’s a call to action phrase, one that prompts you to take notice and take action,” explained Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo.
“Xsê is a multi-culturally understood colloquial South African term that can be used in many situations, especially when one wants to be heard. Elections allow for an individual’s voice to be heard hence we made it for the individual to own. Moreover, it’s a clever play on the ‘X’ that voters put on the ballot paper and which has featured in previous election campaigns.
“We hope Xsê becomes part of the lexicon of South African youth during this these elections.”
As part of the launch of elections, the Electoral Commission Contact Centre has also been re-activated and is operational weekdays from 8am to 5pm. It provides assistance to callers in all official languages on 0800 11 8000 and is also available to respond to queries submitted via email and the IEC’s Twitter account and Facebook page.
The focus of the campaign is to promote registration during the upcoming final voter registration weekend being held on 26 – 27 January 2019 when the country’s 22 927 voting stations will open from 08h00 to 17h00 to allow new voters to register and existing voters to update and to check their registration details.
A key aspect of the campaign will also be to encourage already registered voters to also use the opportunity of the registration weekend or the online facility to check and update their address details.
In November last year the Constitutional Court granted an application by the Electoral Commission for an extension to the deadline until November 2019 to update the voters’ roll with all addresses.
This has allowed the Electoral Commission to utilise the registration weekend and election day itself to collect outstanding addresses before allowing voters to vote.
Voter registration for South Africans living abroad is also taking place between 1 – 4 February at South Africa’s 121 foreign missions. Registration of inmates is also planned for 22 -23 January at correctional facilities around the country.
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.
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 near future.