This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
SABC/Markinor Opinion 2004 Possible Turnout, Voter Registration and Apathy
Embargo: SABC Thursday 25 March 2004: 16:00
Other media Friday 26 March 2004: 00:01
Between 87 and 92 percent of registered voters indicated their intention to vote in the general election of 14 April 2004, but this figure may be influenced adversely by the fact that the Election Day is after the Easter long weekend and during the school holidays. Weather conditions may also impact negatively on voter turnout. The turnout in the 1999 election was 89.3%.
This high percentage notwithstanding, according to the latest SABC/Markinor Opinion 2004 poll, a considerable number of South Africans did not register and have shown no interest in voting on Election Day. This voter apathy is of obvious concern to the IEC and political parties in the country.
IEC records show that 20.67 million South Africans are registered out of a possible 27.4 million eligible voters. This amounts to 75% of eligible voters. (These numbers exclude the additional registration of prisoners.)
Just less than half (48%) of all eligible voters - South Africans eighteen years and older - reported that they "definitely want to vote" in the upcoming election. This increased to four out of five (83%) when those who said that they "definitely want to vote" and those who "want to vote" were added.
When asked how likely they are to vote, 86% reported that they were either "likely" or "very likely" to vote. An alarming 13% stated that they are "not likely" or "not at all likely" to vote. When probed as to why they are "not likely" or "not at all likely" to vote, over a third (38%) of them felt that their vote would make no difference.
WHY ARE YOU UNLIKELY TO VOTE?
- Based on "Not at all likely" and "Not likely" to vote (n = 569 Respondents)
My vote will make no difference
There is no party that represents my interests
I do not support any of the current parties
No ID document
It is against my principles
There is no real difference between the parties
I do not like any of the current party leaders
The fact that politicians can cross the floor to other parties nullifies my vote
Refused/Not a South African voter
More than four out of five (84%) South Africans are aware that registration is a prerequisite for voting in this year's election. Four out of five (82%) also reported being registered to vote. The percentage of reported registration is lower for eighteen to 24-year olds and proportionately less white, coloured and Indian voters who would have been eligible to vote, have registered.
ARE YOU A REGISTERED VOTER?
With regard to self-reported registration, Markinor has built in a new method of ensuring the validity of respondents' answers. If the respondent indicated that he/she was registered for the election, Markinor interviewers asked the respondent to show them his/her green bar-coded ID book or other proof of registration. Of the 84% who reported being registered, 91% could provide actual proof of registration.
With regard to those voters who reported not being registered to vote, three out of five (60%) stated that they wanted to register, but were not able to. The other 40% reported that they did not register because they did not want to.
Those who reported being unable to register, stated they either did not have the correct bar-coded identity document (40%), did not have time to register (25%) or could not reach the place of registration (23%).
WHY WERE YOU UNABLE TO REGISTER?
(n = 391 respondents)
Did not have the correct bar-coded ID document
Did not have time to register
Could not get to the place to register
Did not know where to register
Did not know about these dates
Did not know how to register
With regard to those who reported not wanting to register, 42% stated they did not want to register because they feel there is no reason to vote.
WHY DID YOU NOT WANT TO REGISTER?
(n = 356 respondents)
There is no reason to vote
I did not want to
I do not want to vote for any of the current parties
There is no difference between parties
I do not want to take the time to register
I don't think I should have to register
I do not have the correct bar-coded ID document
It is too difficult
I do not know where to go
I cannot get to the registration place
Four out of five eligible voters (84%) reported still living in the same home that they lived in during the 1999 election. Of those who had moved since the 1999 election, 56% reported having re-registered as a voter in the new voting district they currently reside in.
The challenge for all political parties will be to get those who had been registered to actually go and vote on Election Day. The timing of the election makes this an even greater challenge. There is also a need for ongoing, general voter education in the country to counter voter apathy and to inform South Africans as to why voting is necessary and important.
Fieldwork for this latest poll in the SABC/Markinor Opinion 2004 series was undertaken from 29 January to 20 February 2004 and personal, in-home interviews were conducted with 3500 randomly chosen respondents from all walks of life in South Africa. The results are representative of the views of the universe in terms of province, gender, race, age, working status and other demographic features.
All sample surveys are subject to statistical error and the results for this poll have to be evaluated against this background. Depending on the response rate, the sample error for the poll as a whole is between 0.72% and 1.66%.
For more information, please contact:
Director, Political Analyst
011 686 8458
082 380 3010
Associate Director, Political Analyst
021 680 9200
083 777 0161