3 March 2004
The Chief Electoral Officer of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Pansy Tlakula, has certified the National Common Voters’ Roll to be used in the 2004 national and provincial elections on 14 April.
South Africans participated in various door-to-door and other special registration projects, as well as the two voter registration weekends of 8 and 9 November 2003 and 24 and 25 January 2004, in order to register as voters.
The Voters’ Roll has 20 674 926 voters who are entitled to participate in the election.
More than 4 million voters will be able to participate in their first national and provincial election on 14 April. Since the end of 1998, just over 1.5 million registered voters have died, bringing the net gain compared to the 1999 Voters’ Roll to about 2.5 million voters.
The country’s two previous elections have been characterised by a high voter turnout, in contrast to worldwide trends of voter apathy. About 86.6% of the country’s voting population turned out in 1994, while 89.3% voted in 1999.
The Electoral Act allows prisoners to vote, provided the courts gave them the option of paying a fine instead of serving a jail sentence. On 2 March, however, the Constitutional Court ruled that all prisoners be allowed to vote.
Profile of South Africa’s voters
Gender – in all age categories, women outnumber men in the registration figures. 54.8% of the total number of registered voters are women.
Age – 17% of eligible voters are between the ages of 18 to 25 years and 44% are younger than 35 years. (Only people who are 18 years or older at the time of the elections are eligible to vote.)
Rural-urban – Rural-based voters constitute 7 334 304 (35.5%) of registered voters, as opposed to 13 340 622 (64.5%) who are urban-based.
Section 33 of the Electoral Act provides for special votes for persons who cannot get to the voting stations on voting day as a result of:
- Physical infirmity, disability and pregnancy;
- Absence on government service abroad;
- Being an election official on election day;
- Being a member of the security services performing election duty;
- South Africans temporarily aboard.
Physically infirm, disabled and pregnant voters may apply for a special vote either with the Municipal Electoral Officer (before 8 April) or at the Office of the Presiding Officer (on 12 April) in the voting district in which they are registered.
These people will be visited by IEC officials at the place they indicated on their application form on 12 and 13 April.
Election officials and security force members will apply and cast their vote at the Office of the Presiding Officer of their voting district on 12 and 13 April.
Persons who are absent on government service abroad, as well as South Africans who are temporarily absent from the country, (and who notified the Chief Electoral Officer by 26 February) will apply and vote at foreign missions on 7 April.
By 23 February, 647 eligible voters had notified the Chief Electoral Officer of their intention to cast special votes.