Elections: where are the born-frees?

2014-02-09 10:00

Less than a quarter of South Africa’s born-frees have registered for the May?7 general election.

Figures from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) show that 22%, or 427?655 of South Africa’s almost two million 18- to 19-year-olds, had registered to vote before this weekend.

The commission said it hoped to register about 500?000 of these first-time voters during this weekend’s final registration push.

The born-frees?–?those born after South Africa’s democracy in 1994?– make up 6% of South Africa’s total voting population of 31.4?million.

The age group with the most registered voters is the 60- to 69-year-olds, with 98% of voters registered.

IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela said the commission was worried about the low registration of eligible young voters.

Their registration was necessary to strengthen the voters’ roll, she said.

Bapela said the IEC was running television and radio campaigns featuring musicians and other “celebrities” in a bid to appeal to young voters and was also running current affairs shows.

Other campaigns to rope in the youth included visits to youth organisations, schools, universities and the use of social media to reach out to young voters.

Yesterday, the IEC said the final voter registration weekend had got off to a smooth start in most of South Africa’s 22?263 voting stations.

It said that recent community protests had not closed stations in most areas except voting stations which closed in Bekkersdal after they were petrol-bombed yesterday.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), which believes it could benefit most from the youth vote, said it had targeted the 18- to 19-year-old group extensively in the past six months.

DA chief executive officer Jonathan Moakes told City Press that those young voters who had registered were likely to turn out to vote.

He said the DA would be “distributing pamphlets, phoning voters we have obtained contact details for, going door to door and will be SMSing voters to encourage them to register”.

He said the DA would be “very present on social media” and have activists on the ground.

“The DA supporters who we assist in registering are very likely to vote for the DA,” he said.

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