Young people are being encouraged to register and vote in the upcoming national and provincial elections.

The Electoral Commission has officially launched the 2019 National and Provincial Elections with a focus on grabbing the attention of young and first-time voters.

Despite representing over 50% of the population, South Africans under 30 years old have the lowest levels of voter registration.

“The young people of South Africa comprise an increasingly powerful and crucial segment of our economy, our culture, our democracy and our country. But until they register and vote they are unable exercise their right to participate in choosing the future of our country,” says Electoral Commission chairperson Glen Mashinini.

A new campaign features young South Africans from all walks of life expressing their reasons for the importance of voting in the upcoming elections under a newly-created word: Xsê

“We zoned in on a phrase that is uniquely South African. It’s cool and can be used easily by anyone across the culture lines. It’s a call to action phrase, one that prompts you to take notice and take action,” explains chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo.

“Xsê is a multi-culturally understood colloquial South African term that can be used in many situations, especially when one wants to be heard. Elections allow for an individual’s voice to be heard hence we made it for the individual to own. Moreover, it’s a clever play on the ‘X’ that voters put on the ballot paper and which has featured in previous election campaigns.

“We hope Xsê becomes part of the lexicon of South African youth during this these elections.”

As part of the launch of elections, the Electoral Commission Contact Centre has also been re-activated and is operational weekdays from 8am to 5pm. It provides assistance to callers in all official languages on 0800 11 8000 and is also available to respond to queries submitted via email and the IEC’s Twitter account and Facebook page.

The Electoral Commission hopes to promote registration during the upcoming final voter registration weekend being held on 26 and 27 January 2019 when the country’s 22 927 voting stations will open from 08h00 to 17h00 to allow new voters to register and existing voters to update and to check their registration details.

It is also encouraging already-registered voters to also use the opportunity of the registration weekend or the online facility to check and update their address details.

In November last year the Constitutional Court granted an application by the Electoral Commission for an extension to the deadline until November 2019 to update the voters’ roll with all addresses.

Voter registration for South Africans living abroad is taking place between 1 February and 4 February at South Africa’s 121 foreign missions. Registration of inmates is also planned for 22 and 23 January at correctional facilities around the country.

All South Africa citizens aged 16 and older in possession of an official ID document can register as voters – although only those who are at least 18 years old on voting day may vote.

Voters should take a copy of their bar-coded ID book, smart card ID or temporary ID certificate when they go to register in the voting district in which they ordinarily reside.

When registering, voters will need to provide their address or a description of where they live to allow the Electoral Commission to place them on the correct segment of the voters’ roll. However, documentation or proof of address is not required.

In terms of the Constitution, the term of the current National Assembly and provincial legislatures ends on 6 May 2019 and elections must be held within 90 days thereafter. This means the elections must be held between 7 May and 5 August 2019.

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently indicated his intention to proclaim elections before the end of May and is expected to announce the exact date soon.