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SOWETAN | Register to vote for a better future

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Alaister Russell/Sunday Times

This weekend marks another important milestone in our maturing democracy and in the electoral commission’s calendar as it is voter registration.

It goes without saying that many South Africans are proud of their election heritage 29 years into the hard-won democracy with registration of eligible voters having been on the upward trajectory even if it has been marginally so.

For example, in 2014 there were just over 25 million people registered to vote while this number grew to over 26 million registered voters in 2019.

It is reasonable to expect that the Electoral Commission of SA will set the bar even higher to increase the margin of registering eligible voters for next year’s elections. This is because on the political front 2024 elections have been billed as likely to be the most hotly contested since 1994.

While more people have been registered to vote in previous elections, there have been some worrisome signs of poor voter turnout during elections. This indicates that having an increased number of registered voters doesn’t always translate into a good turnout at the polls.

In the 2019 elections, voter turnout dropped from 73.48% in 2014 to 65.99%. However, if there was a lesson to be learnt from the outcomes of the local government elections which saw many municipalities across the country hung and governed by coalitions, that lesson must be that every vote counts. 

We want to encourage every eligible voter, especially young people to take advantage of this voter registration weekend and get registered for next year’s elections. Voting offers a glorious opportunity to young people to shape the future of this country.

It is a country duty that all South Africans ought to understand and take very seriously by now. The constitution provides that the elected government will run the affairs of the state on behalf of the people. If fewer people vote, it means those who don’t are handing over power to choose who governs all of us to the few who then make decisions we should all treasure.

We must therefore all value the opportunity of being eligible to vote and respect the duty of exercising our rights even if we cannot guarantee the outcome will favour our own choice.

We must see next year’s election as less about this or that party politics but about all our future.

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