Yes, more than 9 million eligible voters aren’t registered for South Africa’s 2019 elections

Over a quarter of the South Africans who could vote are missing from the voters’ roll, according to an article on BusinessTech.

The headline reads: “9.2 million eligible voters are not registered for the 2019 elections”.

National elections are set for 8 May.

“While the number of registered voters in 2019 has increased to 26.7 million, the eligible population has increased to about 35.9 million,” the article says.

“This puts the registration rate at 74.5% in 2019.”

Electoral Commission says 9.8 million aren’t registered

The article was posted to Facebook, where a user flagged it as potentially false. But it’s largely correct.

The original article was written by GroundUp, a donor-funded news agency that focuses on human rights.

GroundUp’s source was a statement released by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (known as the IEC) after the final registration weekend of 26 and 27 January 2019.

“Over 700 000 new voters registered during the final registration weekend, bringing the total number of registered voters on the voters’ roll to 26,727,921,” the IEC said. (Its registration statistics page put the number at 26,722,371 on 12 February 2019.)

But it said the number of eligible but unregistered voters was 9.8 million, not 9.2 million.

“The Commission remains concerned that approximately 9.8 million eligible voters are still not registered, of which approximately 6 million are under 30 years old.”

Women make up 55% of registered voters

Based on the IEC’s figures, some 36.5 million people are eligible to vote.

The 9.8 million unregistered voters make up 26.8% of all eligible voters.

About 14.7 million registered voters, or 55%, are female, and 12 million male.

Some 5.7 million (21.4%) are under the age of 30.

People aged 30 to 39 are the largest age group of registered voters: 6.7 million, or 25%.

Eligible voters can still get their names on the voters’ roll by registering at local IEC offices. Registration will close when the 8 May election date is officially proclaimed – likely towards the end of February.

Who can vote in South Africa?

To be eligible to vote you have to be a citizen aged 18 or older.

Even people serving prison terms are eligible to vote in South Africa – unlike some other countries – thanks to a constitutional court ruling that upheld political rights laid out in the Bill of Rights.

Non-citizens, young people under the age of 18 and those “declared by the High Court to be of unsound mind or mentally disordered” are not eligible to vote.

Registered voters make up less than half the population

South Africa has a population of 57.7 million people, according to Stats SA’s 2018 mid-year population estimates.

It has 17 million children aged 0 to 14 – some 29.5% of the population – and 4.7 million people aged 15 to 19, another 8.2% of the total.

If 26.7 million South Africans are registered to vote in 2019, that means 46.3% – less than half the country’s people – may elect the country’s next government in May.

That’s if they all show up at the polls.

Just under 18.7 million South Africans voted in the 2014 elections, or 73.5% of the 25.4 million people then on the voters’ roll.

About 18.4 million of those votes were valid.

In 2014 the country’s population was estimated at 54 million, so 34% – or just over a third of the people living in South Africa – helped choose the country’s government in the previous elections. – Mary Alexander (15/02/19)


Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check has partnered with Facebook to combat fake news and false information on the social platform. This fact-check is part of the initiative.

As part of its third-party fact-checking programme, Facebook allows its partners to see public articles, pictures or videos that have been flagged as potentially inaccurate.

Content rated as “false” by fact-checkers will be downgraded in news feeds. This means fewer people will see it.

You can help us identify fake news and false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

© Copyright Africa Check 2019. Read our republishing guidelines. You may reproduce this piece or content from it for the purpose of reporting and/or discussing news and current events. This is subject to: Crediting Africa Check in the byline, keeping all hyperlinks to the sources used and adding this sentence at the end of your publication: “This report was written by Africa Check, a non-partisan fact-checking organisation. View the original piece on their website", with a link back to this page.