Findings of IEC voter participation survey

The Electoral Commission (IEC) today released the findings of the 2010/2011 Voter Participation Survey. The purpose of the survey is to:
• To information and guide the Commission in its plans, policies and practices to implement its mandate optimally
• To evaluate voting behaviour in South Africa
• To assist the perceptions of voters on the performance of municipal government as it impacts on voter participation
• To determine people’s interest in and perceptions of the forthcoming municipal elections
• To examine the electoral and political involvement of women, the youth and persons with disabilities
• To evaluate public opinion of the IEC and measure people’s trust in the Commission

Officiating at the formal release of the survey findings, IEC Deputy Chairperson, Commissioner Thoko Mpumlwana, said that for several years, the IEC has adopted numerous traditions and measures for keeping in touch with voters and prospective voters on issues that pertain to electoral democracy in our country.

“The survey has revealed several interesting findings including issues pertaining to registration, voter education, voting stations, public trust on national and other institutions, challenges related to Identity Documents (IDs), perceptions about the IEC’s performance, and whether the voters intend voting on 18 May 2011,” she said.

Key findings of the survey are as follows:

Views on Democracy and Governance
• Satisfaction with democracy declined slightly over the past decade, with nearly equivalent shares satisfied and dissatisfied in 2010.
• Low levels of trust in core political institutions with higher levels of trust in religious bodies, the SABC and the IEC.
• Political interest increased slightly from 2004 but levels remain low (42%).
• 58% express awareness of local governance structures such as ward committees, with greater awareness among poorer citizens.

Voter Registration
• Overwhelming satisfaction with the registration process (98% found it easy; 58% took 10 minutes or less).
• Political disillusionment is the primary reason given (74%) for not intending to register.

Voting Attitudes
• Previous participation and interest in politics, as well as satisfaction with political leadership, responsiveness and efficacy are all factors that positively impact the intention to vote.
• Political disinterest and disillusionment is the primary reason given for not intending to vote (by 65% of the 21% who do not intend to vote).
• Party loyalty rather than abstention remains the dominant electoral response to political parties not delivering effectively on their mandate.

Most Recent Voting Experience
• Extreme high levels (over 90%) of satisfaction expressed with all aspects of the voting process, IEC officials and voting stations.

Voting Irregularities
• Very few voters (13%) thought irregularities had occurred during the 2006 local government elections.
• The majority (86%) have never personally experienced any form of irregularity, including intimidation or interference by party officials, among others.

Voting and Special Groups
• General agreement that the needs of women, youth, persons with disabilities and the elderly are being taken into account in electoral procedures.

Public Profile of the Electoral Commission
• Most voters hold the IEC in high esteem for its efficiency and professionalism. Trust in the IEC increased 19% from 1999 and 2010.
• High awareness of the IEC (86%) but amount of knowledge about the IEC remains limited (56% have little knowledge, 17% have no knowledge).
• Similarly low levels of knowledge about voting processes (47% too little/far too little information).
• Television and radio remain the preferred sources for information.

The IEC “has found it imperative to rely on scientific ways of keeping pace with the voters by undertaking systematic and scientific investigation and analysis on their needs”.

“Through scientific research, public opinion surveys and other studies,” she added, “we usually seek to find out what the voters out there are thinking about our previous elections and how they think we can better fulfil our constitutional mandate.”

“This survey provides us with an invaluable opportunity to gain first-hand information or feedback from the voters and prospective voters themselves to ensure a climate that is conducive to free and fair elections during the 18 May municipal elections,” said Commissioner Mpumlwana.

The details of the survey are available on the IEC website, http://www.elections.org.za/content/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=1774

ISSUED BY THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION

Pretoria
14 April 2011


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