The Importance of Voting in the 2024 Elections

With the 2024 elections on the horizon in South Africa, it’s crucial to talk about why people, especially the youth, should step up to the ballot box.

To vote in South Africa’s election, you must register as a voter before election day. You only have to register once unless you move (within South Africa) or your voting district boundaries change. So if you have voted in the last election in 2019, there is no need to register again.

If you have not registered, you can do this simply online. It only takes two minutes. Register to vote here!

Who can vote?

Any South African living in the country or any other part of the world with a valid identity document (green, barcoded ID book; smartcard ID, or a valid Temporary Identity Certificate or a valid South African passport or (temporary passport) can vote. Persons who have permanent residency in South Africa can not vote.

To be eligible to vote, you must have turned 18 on or before the elections are proclaimed (elections are proclaimed on the day that the election date is published in the Government Gazette).

If you are out of the country, have a disability that prevents you from going to the voting station, are bedridden, or are in hospital on the day of the elections, you can apply for a special vote.

South African citizens abroad who wish to vote in this year’s election can click here!

Why does your vote matter?

Leading up to the elections, many people will use the excuse that they are not going to vote because they do not know which party to vote for or don’t believe that their vote makes a difference.

However, your one vote does matter, and your vote is important to create change in our country. For example, if 1,000 people decide not to vote because they think their vote doesn’t matter, it can have a significant impact on the outcome of the election.

The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation explains that in the last national election in 2019, over 27 million adults did not vote and, therefore, did not exercise their democratic rights to elect their representatives.

Not only does this go in the face of the hard-won battles fought by previous generations to be allowed to vote, but it also impacts the strength of our democracy. Low voter turnout and the rising number of unregistered voters suggest that our democracy is becoming increasingly unrepresentative. Your vote contributes to ensuring that the election is representative of diverse needs and experiences and, in so doing, strengthens the foundations on which democracy is built.

Why should you vote?

There are many reasons that you should vote in the upcoming election. Below, we’ve outlined some of the reasons why voting is important:

Secure Your Future
The decisions made in government impact your future. By voting, you have a say in the policies that shape job opportunities, education, services, and other crucial aspects of life, including gender-based violence and femicide. By exercising your right to vote, you can contribute to the decisions that will impact your lives and future generations.

Influence Policies That Matter
South Africa faces many challenges, from crime and gender-based violence to education reform and unemployment. Young voters possess a unique perspective on these issues, and by casting their ballots, they influence the policies that will directly address their concerns. A high turnout of youth voters ensures that the government is attuned to the changing needs and aspirations of the younger generation.

Fight Apathy with Action
Apathy – a lack of interest or concern in the voting process – can weaken democracy. Voting empowers people, showing them that their opinions carry weight.

When young people actively participate in the democratic process, they become stakeholders in the nation’s journey, creating a sense of responsibility for its wellbeing. In other words, your vote helps to strengthen the democratic process and can contribute to the future well-being of the country.

Add to a Diverse Democracy
A strong democracy embraces diversity. The youth need to vote as they offer varied perspectives and experiences on matters affecting the country. Voting ensures that the government reflects the interests of everyone, making the democratic system more robust and resilient. Voting is generally one of the most important ways to actively contribute to the country’s future, the policies that will be implemented, and the people who will lead the country.

There are many other reasons why you should vote. It is not only your civic duty. It is your chance to have a say in the country’s future. Don’t leave that up to other people simply because you feel your vote doesn’t matter or believe that voting is not important.

Things to remember for Election Day

Remember, in order to vote on Election Day, you must first register. It is now easier than ever to register online here.

On the day of the election, you must go to the station at which you have registered to vote.

You can vote at any station in the country for the national election if you cannot go to the station where you registered. If you cannot vote in the province in which you registered, you will only be able to vote in the national election and not the provincial election, and you’ll be asked to complete a VEC 4 form at the voting station. Do not forget to take your identity document with you on voting day.
Remember, your vote is not just a checkbox; it’s a tool to shape the future you want.

Use your right to vote!

Remember, your vote is not just a checkbox; it’s a tool to shape the future you want.

Let your voice count, and may your vote contribute to a more practical, inclusive, and resilient South Africa for yourself and the generations that will follow.