In a strategic move ahead of the 2024 national elections, the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) is intensifying efforts to engage key demographics, focusing particularly on the youth and male voters. The commission recently unveiled the outcomes of its inaugural voter registration campaign, reporting a noteworthy turnout of over half a million first-time voters for the upcoming elections, with young women dominating the registrations.
Despite the encouraging figures, the IEC recognizes the imperative to further motivate young men and first-time voters to actively participate in the electoral process. The commission’s emphasis on engaging young people is yielding positive results, as evidenced by a substantial 78.3% of newly registered voters falling within the 16 to 29 age bracket, according to IEC chairperson Sy Mamabolo.
While women have consistently constituted the majority of voters since the 2014 national elections, the youth, often referred to as the “missing majority,” demonstrated increased involvement during the recent voter registration drive. A notable 445,000 new voters aged 16 to 29 registered, underscoring the potential impact of the IEC’s targeted outreach.
However, the figures also reveal a gender disparity, with women showing greater interest in the political landscape compared to their male counterparts. Of the new registrations, 298,000 were females, representing 52.5% of the total, reaffirming the established trend of higher female representation on the voters’ roll. Despite these gains, the challenge remains to ensure proportional representation of women and youth on the actual ballot paper as the nation approaches the 2024 elections.