In 2014 South Africa will not only celebrate 20 years of freedom from apartheid, it will also hold the country’s fifth national democratic elections. Play Your Part by registering to vote in the upcoming elections – our democracy was hard-earned through decades of activism and sacrifice, and should not be allowed to go to waste.
With the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) announcing a second and final round of voter registration set for February, we bring you a complete guide to registering for the elections.
When will the elections be held?
The elections must take place some time in 2014, but the final date will only be known once the president has proclaimed it in the Government Gazette.
Who may vote?
To be eligible to vote, you must:
- Be a South African citizen
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a green bar-coded ID book, or an ID smartcard, or a temporary identity certificate. These are all issued by the Department of Home Affairs.
Finally, you may only vote if you are registered on the voters’ roll.
How do I register to vote?
First, ensure you have the necessary identity document – a green bar-coded ID book, an ID smartcard, or a temporary identity certificate. If you don’t, you will need to apply for one at the Department of Home Affairs.
With your identity document, you must then register in person – you can’t do it online, for example, or by email.
You can then register in two ways:
- Any time before the president proclaims the date of the election, you can register at your local IEC municipal office – but you must first contact the office and make an appointment. The IEC has a list of municipal offices with all the contact details you need.
- On the weekend of 8 to 9 February 2014, you can register from 08h00 to 17h00 at the voting station for your voting district. Find your voting station using the map on the IEC website, or phone 0800 11 8000 on Monday to Friday from 08h00 to 17h00.
Do I have to register before every election?
Unless you have moved into a new voting district, you only have to register once. If you have moved, you have to register for your new district. If you remain on the voters’ roll for your old voting district, you will only be able to vote at your old voting station.
You may have to register again if your voting district changes.
How do I check if I am correctly registered to vote?
You can check if you are registered to vote, and for the right district, in a number of ways:
- Send an SMS with your ID number to 32810.
- Check your voter registration details online – this will also give you the address of your voting station.
- Phone the IEC’s call centre on 0800 11 8000 – this is toll-free if you phone from a landline.
- Check at your voting station during the registration weekend of 8 to 9 February 2014.
- Check at your local municipal electoral office during office hours.
How old must I be to register?
Even though you may only vote if you are 18 or older, you may register on the voters’ roll from the age of 16.
Where do I register?
Any time before the president proclaims the date of the election, you can register at your local IEC municipal office – but you must first contact the office and make an appointment. The IEC has a list of municipal offices with all the contact details you need.
On the weekend of 8 to 9 February 2014, you can register from 08h00 to 17h00 at the voting station for your voting district. Find your voting station using the map on the IEC website.
Note that you must apply for registration on or before the day the president proclaims the date of the election in the Government Gazette. The voters’ roll for the election closes at 17h00 on the day of the proclamation.
What documents do I need to register?
By law, you must apply in person, and bring with you a valid green bar-coded South African ID book, or a smartcard ID, or a temporary identity certificate if you don’t have an ID book or smartcard. If you don’t have any of these, apply for one at the Department of Home Affairs.
Can I register if I’m currently living outside South Africa?
Yes, all South Africans with a valid South African ID (see above) and a valid South African passport are allowed to register. Overseas registrations close on 7 February 2014. Find out more on the IEC website.
How do I register from overseas?
Go to your nearest South African embassy, high commission or diplomatic mission with your valid ID and passport. Note that you can’t register with only your passport – you must have your ID document as well. Both documents must be valid.
Can I vote before I leave South Africa?
If you will be overseas on election day and would like to vote in South Africa a few days beforehand, you can apply for a special vote at your municipal electoral office.
What happens when I register?
- Go to your voting station, municipal electoral office or, if voting overseas, your diplomatic mission.
- Fill in the Application for Registration as a Voter form
- Your ID book will be scanned
- A bar-coded sticker will be pasted in your ID book
Note that completing the form and receiving a bar-coded sticker doesn’t mean that you’re registered, it only means that you’ve applied for registration. Your application must still be processed, which may take up to seven working days.