Voter turnout will be key in upcoming local elections

Ideas

Voter turnout will be key in upcoming local elections

Past polls are telling when it comes to the number of registered voters and those who actually made their mark

Columnist

When the results of the August 2016 local elections were announced, ANC NEC member Fikile Mbalula grabbed his phone and sent out an angry tweet. In the flavoursome, hyperbolic and combative language he is fond of employing, Mbalula wrote: “The white racist political party DA must not say easy victory the majority of our pple did not turn up. Simple cheque the stats you will see.” (sic)

Mbalula was wrong and right. Voters had actually turned up in huge numbers for the 2016 elections compared with previous local elections. More than a million and a half more voters went to the polls in August 2016 for the local elections than those that did in 2011. A total of 15,296,746 South Africans voted that week, an increase of 1,631,832 compared with the 2011 election.

The turnout showed a growing enthusiasm for local elections among SA voters, a trend that is not that common elsewhere in the world. Turnout in the 2000 local elections, for example, was a mere 48.07%. It stayed the same in 2006 and then jumped up to 57% in 2011 and 58% in 2016...

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