“Voter registration for #LGE2021 continues online at https://registertovote.elections.org.za until midnight on Monday, September 20. Voters' roll closes with a proclamation on this day. But hurry, register asap to avoid disappointment. #evervoicetogether” tweeted the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) as the voter registration centres were closing on Sunday.
Some users of the system, however, complained that they were struggling to enter their addresses on the system.
The Electoral Commission earlier this year launched an online voter registration facility allowing new voters to register and existing voters to update or amend their registration from the ease and convenience of their homes or elsewhere.
The online voter registration facility is part of the Electoral Commission’s ongoing commitment to providing greater accessibility and convenience to voters. It follows the implementation of a range of other digital service channels over the past five years, including online candidate nominations, online special vote applications, and online party funding declarations.
The new online voter registration facility has been in development for a number of years. The first phase was the introduction of an online service known as “Click, Check, Confirm” ahead of the 2019 National and Provincial Elections, through which existing voters were able to check and amend their registration. More than 350 000 voters have made use of this system since its introduction.
The second phase launched in July to allow all eligible voters – whether registered or not – to register and update their details via a computer, smart mobile device or tablet.
The system utilises a number of security checks to ensure the integrity of the voters’ roll. These include the use of a One-Time-Pin (OTP) verification and the submission of a scan or photograph of the voter’s ID document.
The online registration complements other existing registration options, including ongoing voter registration at all local IEC offices and various outreach initiatives, including at schools, tertiary education institutions, and the general voter registration weekends ahead of elections.
The Electoral Commission believes the online facility will be a game-changer in promoting voter registration, especially among young and first-time voters. Research and engagements over the years with young eligible voters to better understand their behaviour have frequently identified the lack of online voter registration as a key obstacle.
The introduction of an online registration system is also a crucial part of the Electoral Commission’s plans to boost voter registration despite Covid-19 ahead of the Local Government Elections.