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Young voters hold the power

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Despite representing over 50% of the country’s population, South Africans under 30 continue to have the lowest levels of voter registration

A citizens right to vote in South Africas elections is enshrined in the Constitution, so whether or not a voter has a fixed address is immaterial. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Young South Africans could have a major influence on the outcome of an election in the country if they registered and turned up at the polls.

Despite the impact of the #FeesMustFall movement, research has shown that young South Africans do not believe that voting can bring about real change.

Despite representing over 50% of the country’s population, South Africans under 30 continue to have the lowest levels of voter registration.

Data published by the Independent Electoral Commission revealed that only 16% of 18 to 19 year olds are registered to vote on the voters roll, a decline from 34% in 2016.

Only 71% of young people who were registered to vote in 2016, voted and this highlights the potential ability of young South Africans to influence an election.

Yet it is the core issues – rising unemployment, the state of the economy, corruption, poor infrastructure and poor education – that directly affect the youth.

Despite representing over 50% of the country’s population, South Africans under 29 continue to have the lowest levels of voter registration.

It appears the youth or first-time voter turnout at the national elections will be poorer than expected but the youth vote – when it fully materialises – will be extremely powerful.