Sampson pic brenton

Cape Town - Only 5 percent of people aged between 16 and 20 are registered to vote in the Western Cape, slightly below the national average, says provincial electoral officer Courtney Sampson.

“If our young people don’t show an interest in voting, we have a problem as a nation,” he said, speaking at the launch of the 2014 election campaign on Tuesday.

The national chairwoman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Pansy Tlakula, also had a message for young voters: “We are hoping the young people will go out in their numbers to vote, and they should encourage other young people to vote.

“We should not take our democracy for granted.”

It was noteworthy that many of these new voters would have been born in 1994, when the first democratic elections were held.

Sampson said that with almost 40 parties already registered in the Western Cape to contest next year’s provincial and parliamentary elections, voters would have to work through “quite a lengthy ballot paper”.

While the election date has yet to be announced by President Jacob Zuma, it must be between April 22 and July 22.

The weekend of November 9 and 10 has been set aside for a national registration drive, but Sampson said voters could register any time before the proclamation of the election date at their nearest municipal office. So far, more than 2.6 million voters in the province have registered with the IEC.

There are 387 wards in the province and 1 578 voting districts.

Sampson acknowledged that political parties tended to “push limits” during an election. “Our task is not going to be easy.”

But the IEC would continue to work with parties to ensure a smooth election.

Tlakula said the IEC would continue to uphold its “high” standards of transparency and credibility.

Parties already registered in the province include the Dagga Party of South Africa, the Mitchells Plain Independent Party and the Tired of Promises Party.

* To find out if you are already registered to vote, send your ID number to 32810 (SMSes cost R1).

Cape Argus