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Study finds widespread voter apathy

Johannesburg - The number of South Africans declining to exercise their right to vote is worrying, the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) said on Tuesday.

Its latest South Africa Survey found that the proportion of South Africans who did not vote in national and provincial elections increased from 14 percent in 1994 to 35 percent in 2009, the SAIRR said.

A poster reminding the public to register to vote. Picture: Etienne Creux. Credit: Independent Newspapers

In 1994, 86 percent of eligible voters voted in the national and provincial election, but by 2009 that proportion had fallen to under 70 percent, it said, quoting Independent Electoral Commission information.

“Recent opinion polls suggest this trend may continue,” the SAIRR said.

It said that according to an opinion poll carried out by market research company Pondering Panda in July, almost a quarter of South Africans did not intend to vote in the 2014 national elections.

Asked why they would not vote, almost half (44 percent) of the 18 to 34-year-olds polled via social media on cellphones said things would stay the same no matter who won the election, and a third (31 percent) said there was no party worth voting for, the SAIRR said.

“This information, combined with the increasing number of violent protests, paints a worrying picture,” said SAIRR researcher Georgina Alexander.

“Rife corruption and lack of accountability among public officials has caused people in South Africa to lose confidence in political and governmental structures,” she said.

The South Africa Survey is an annual yearbook on all social, economic, and political aspects of South Africa. The latest one was recently published by the SAIRR.

Sapa

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