IEC launches 2021 elections campaign targeted at youth
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The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has launched its 2021 local government elections campaign aimed at attracting young people who remain under-represented on the voters roll.
This year's elections are set to take place on October 27, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The date has yet to be promulgated by Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini said on Wednesday that the commission was confident the elections could take place under the current conditions.
Some of the country is experiencing the third wave as infections rise and there have been growing calls for a postponement of this year's elections.
The matter has been assigned to former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke to figure out whether the IEC would be able to hold elections safely.
Mashinini said the IEC was "walking a tightrope", faced with ensuring the elections are held safely because of the pandemic and don’t turn into super-spreader events. At the same time, the IEC has to ensure the constitutional mandate of holding elections is adhered to.
With health and safety research and protocol followed, Mashinini said elections could go ahead under the current conditions.
IEC chief executive Sy Mamabolo said this year's local government elections will be held under the theme "every voice together". He said voters should see themselves as casting a vote for their community.
The campaign is launched ahead of registration weekend in July. Mamabolo said young people remained under-represented on the voters roll.
The campaign features videos of young people calling on each other to vote. This is in line with attracting young voters, Mamambolo said.
There will be 4 468 demarcated wards this year, which represents an increase of 76%.
Voting stations have also increased to 23 151, a rise of 539 compared to 2016. Mamabolo said the IEC has been able to increase voter access to stations by 60% since 1999.
Another challenge for the IEC was collecting millions of voter residential addresses. The IEC was mandated by the Constitutional Court to do so in 2016. Mamabolo said the commission has managed to collect 92% of voter addresses, which represents about 24 million people.
There are 1.2 million registered voters who have yet to provide their residential addresses – Mamabolo said there was hope that these missing addresses would be filled with the upcoming voter registration drive.