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More Opinion and Analysis

More registered voters stay home

2014-04-22 09:14
A smaller percentage of registered voters are voting year-on-year.

According to the data provided by the IEC, voter turnout as a percentage of registered voters dropped by almost 11% percent between 1999 and 2004.

Voter turnout map: 1999

The trend follows through in most provinces, with turnout dropping (since 1999) with about 13% in the Free State; about 8% in the Western Cape; 13% in the Eastern Cape; 9% in the Northern Cape; 9% in the North West; Gauteng dropping 10% and Limpopo with 20%. Mpumalanga fell with 8% whilst Kwazulu-Natal was the province with the lowest decrease in voter turnout by just dropping 6%.

Voter turnout map: 2004

This seems a small loss in comparison to the 20% Limpopo is tortured by.

Although voter turnout has generally fallen, it seems like some of the metropolitan areas' voter turnout has increased – likely by the migration from rural areas for more job opportunities.

Voter turnout map: 2009

In the City of Cape Town voter turnout increased by 6% from 2004 – 2009 elections. 

At the Northern Cape’s Sol Plaatje municipality voter turnout increased by 2% from 2004 – 2009 while Ethekwini in KZN almost increased by 9%.

City of Joburg and Tshwane metro increased by rougly 3%; Mbombela with 2%.

But in certain instances a higher turnout wasn't the case.

In Mangaung voter turnout dropped by 0,8%; Mafikeng dropped by almost 7% and Polokwane with 4%.

How did the provinces do in 2009?
WC – 77,78%
EC – 76,69%
NC – 75,95%
GP – 79,06%
FS – 76,99%
Limpop – 69,62%
MP – 80,38%
KZN – 79,87%
NW – 72,60%

Yes, there might be a number of factors to consider when you’re talking about voter turnout: do we have a shift in demographics in the country? Are people unable to relate to the policies of parties they previously voted for? Is this just a trend of apathy and carelessness amongst younger, and even older voters?

It’s unfortunate that the IEC didn't capture statistics for voter turnout in 1994, but I suspect that year would've indicated the highest voter turnout in our country – the stakes being high for everyone.

In a survey done by Pondering Panda roughly 12% of young registered voters said they will not be voting in this year’s election – pretty much on par when you’re looking at the trend. Although the surveys are done with social network MXit, and not necessarily representative of urbanites using technology like WhatsApp or WeChat, it still surveyed people from across medium to high income groups.

More than 4000 people were surveyed – mainly focusing on people aged 18 to 34.

In a report prepared for the IEC by the Human Sciences Research Council in 2005, it said the main reasons for people not participating in future elections will be no interest, no documentation or not registered. 

This year might be different, because there seems to be a political giant awakening within every citizen of this country.

It may all be a dream that voter turnout will increase. We'll have to wait and see.

In a study done by the HSRC and published before the 2009 elections the report The young and the restless: Political apathy and the youth, the research challenged the stereotype of the youth being "lost"  when it came to politics.

Although young people appear less likely to have voted in previous general elections, they claim to have a strong commitment to the democratic process. A sizable majority of young people consider it a duty to vote and smaller but equally notable shares hold the view that voting ultimately makes a difference. Therefore, without even considering non-electoral forms of participation, young South Africans emerge as interested, aware and engaged in political matters to the same extent as their elders. These results pose a convincing challenge to the stereotypical representations depicting youth as ‘disengaged’ or ‘lost’.
We're running live maps on election day and the following days - download the app here and stay informed with regular election results updates.


* The data used in map analysis are from national results. The previous version of this article stated that fewer people are voting. This is not correct as more people are voting, but the trend rather is that less registered voters are voting.

** Click on the links to view the specific area's map; use the ticker to switch between 1999 and 2009.

*** Percentages aren't exact, but rounded up or down to the closest number.

**** The data featured in the maps were provided by the IEC.

Read more on: iec  |  elections 2014  |  politics

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