by Simi Gumede
As you may know, this weekend is the last weekend where voters can register. However, this isn’t necessarily true because you can register anytime during office hours at your local voting station until the election has been officially declared by the president. However, this Saturday and Sunday all voters’ stations will be open from 8am to 5pm specifically to allow voters to register.
It’s an easy process, you register with your ID and physical address (you don’t have to provide proof of residence). This allows your name to be on the voters roll in this year’s upcoming national and provincial elections. You must register in person at your nearest IEC voting station. You can check you’re nearest voting station through the electoral commission’s website, http://maps.elections.org.za/vsfinder/. If you’re unsure about whether you have registered, you can see if you have by sending your ID number via SMS to 32810 (at the cost of R1). Or you can check this information by using the IECs website www.elections.org.za
If you are registered but are living in a different location to where you were last registered, you are required to update your residential address. This is because you must vote at your local voting station. You can change the address easily, just follow of this link https://www.elections.org.za/MYIEC. On this site, you will be required to create a profile, and then through that profile you can change your physical address and subsequently your voting station online. It takes a few minutes and can even be done with your phone.
Give yourself the option to vote. Foucault said an essential component of power as a philosophical concept, is choice. Therefore, empower yourself, give yourself the power to choose. If you are 18 years or older, it is your democratic right to choose who governs our country. It is within your power.
My mother was pregnant with me when she voted in the first democratic elections of 1994. I like to think of how hopeful she must have been in the line waiting for her chance to vote. What new possibilities were going to be available for her baby girl in democratic post-apartheid South Africa?
Now, we must admit there is a growing sense of hopelessness in our society. Our country faces some major problems, from growing inequality to gender-based violence. There’s wide spread unemployment, crime and corruption. It may feel that registering to vote and voting, is pointless. Why believe in a better tomorrow when your heart has been broken, with broken promises?
If I am to be honest, despite the politics and history of voting (and it is important to be aware of the politics of these upcoming elections), giving up like this, even if it is in the slightest, is a disempowering emotion that you don’t have to feel. I think it will be, just better for your peace of mind to participate in our young democracy. It’s more of an empowered state of mind, in my humble opinion.