SA citizens opt for in-person registrations over online

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 21 Nov 2023
The IEC recorded less than 200 000 online registrations during voter registration weekend.
The IEC recorded less than 200 000 online registrations during voter registration weekend.

Despite online interventions to enhance voter registration, South Africans still prefer in-person visits to register to vote.

Ahead of the 2024 National and Provincial Elections, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) held its voter registration at the weekend, garnering over 2.9 million voter registrations.

However, the majority of voters (2.7 million) visited voting stations to register and update their details, while only 196 511 of voters used the online registration portal to do the same, the IEC revealed on Monday.

It states Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal had the highest online registrations over the weekend.

While the number of online registrations is low, IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo says the portal has “proven to be a success” since it wasintroduced.

“The commission is resolving some online registrations that gave a ‘pending’ message. The ‘pending’ message is received by voters in instances where the ID image that they have uploaded cannot be read or recognised by the system, or where an image other than an ID has been uploaded.

“We urge voters to take extra care and follow system prompts when uploading images of their ID,” notes Mamabolo.

Introduced in July 2021, the IEC’s VoterPortal allows new voters to register and existing voters to update or amend their registration from the comfort of their homes.

The commission previously described the online portal as part of an on-going commitment to provide greater accessibility and convenience to voters.

Its introduction followed the implementation of a range of other digital service channels over the years, including online candidate nominations, online special vote applications and online party funding declarations.

Tech-advanced devices

According to the IEC, innovations and efficiencies introduced by the voter management device (VMD) increased the speed at which voter registration applications are processed.

The electoral body indicates that with the VMD, particulars of voters who attended voting stations over the weekend have now been processed and address details captured onto the voters’ roll.

“Before the introduction of the VMD, it would have taken months to capture address details of voters following a registration event. The VMD processed 834 474 live transactions, while 1 872 352 transactions were captured and later processed. This is testament to the soundness of providing for a mode that enables the VMD to operate in varied connectivity environments.

“The total registration activity over the two days was 2 904 037. Eligible citizens registering for the first time were 568 374. This accounts for 19.57% of total registration activity. Voters who re-registered in the same voting district numbered 1.4 million, and those who re-registered in a different voting districts were 929 564.”

In terms of provincial breakdown, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape recorded the most registration transactions, followed by Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, North West, Free State and Northern Cape.

“Gauteng continues to be inhabited by the majority of the country’s population, as well as being the largest voting block at 6.2 million registered voters.

“Young persons in the age category 16 to 29 account for 445 089 (78.31%) of the 568 374 new voters. The commission will persist with efforts to improve the registration levels of the youth.

“The well-entrenched trend of there being more females on the voters’ roll continues. Of the new registrations, 298 500, or 52.52%, were female.”

The IEC says the online registration portal remains available and citizens can continue to use the platform to register for the elections or update their details, urging those whose applications were not concluded on the system to finalise them.

Alternatively, the date for a second voter registration weekend will be announced in due course, says the electoral commission.