With national elections coming up in a few months, it’s essential to ensure that you cast your vote and make your voice heard. Before going to the polls, though, there are certain steps that you should have taken to ensure that you won’t be turned away on the day. The first and most crucial step is to make sure you’re registered as a voter and be allocated to a voting district and station.

If you’ve never voted before, it’s easy to get your name on the voters’ roll. Be aware that if you can’t get to an electoral office, you only have one more chance to register, and that’s on the final voter registration weekend, coming up on 26 and 27 January. That’s this weekend.

You only have to register once, unless you move to another town or province, or your voting district boundaries change. If you’ve moved a short distance you will only have to re-register if you’ve crossed over into another voting district and would like to vote as close to home as possible. However, you can still drive to your original voting station to vote, if you prefer.

Read our article on pain-free voter registration, and for more questions read the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) FAQ on voter registration.

We will cover special votes, the voting process, and other issues in later articles.

To be eligible to register, you must:

  • be a South African citizen;
  • be at least 16 years old (but you can only vote when you turn 18); and
  • and have a green, bar-coded ID book; smartcard ID; or valid temporary identity certificate.

When and where can I register?

  1. Apply for registration at the voting station for your voting district on the final registration weekend for the 2019 national and provincial elections set for 26 and 27 January 2019. Voting stations will be open between 8am and 5pm on both days.
  2. Make an appointment to apply for registration during office hours at the local IEC office responsible for your voting district. Please always phone first to make an appointment.

What documents do I need to apply for registration?

By law, you must apply in person (no online or email registrations are permitted). Please bring your:-

  • green, bar-coded ID book;
  • smartcard ID; or
  • valid temporary identity certificate.

No other forms of ID can be accepted. Only original documents (no copies) are accepted.

What happens when I apply?

  1. Go to your local IEC office (or the voting station nearest to you, on registration weekend).
  2. Fill in the registration form.
  3. Officials will scan your ID document.
  4. A barcoded sticker is pasted in your green ID book or on your valid Temporary Identity Certificate. If you have a smartcard ID, the sticker will be pasted on a special form that will be given to you.

Please note that completing the form and receiving a barcoded sticker or receipt doesn’t mean that you’re registered, it only means that you’ve applied for registration. Your application must still be processed, and this may take up to seven working days.

How do I know if or where I’m registered?

To check your registration details, you can:

Don’t forget that it can take up to seven working days for your registration application to be processed. 

When do I have to re-register?

Under normal circumstances you shouldn’t have to register again. There are certain situations, however, that will mean you do need to re-register. These are if:

  • your home address changes (if you’ve moved a short distance, please see the advice on Moved since you registered? to find out how to check if your voting district has changed); or 
  • the IEC informs you that your voting district boundaries have changed.

Check your voter registration details to find out if you may have to re-register.

Important: During municipal elections and by-elections, you must vote at the voting station where you are registered, so it is important to re-register whenever you move or your voting district boundaries change.

Don’t assume that once you’ve registered, your information will automatically be on the voters’ roll! It should be, but glitches happen. Take the time to check your voter registration details to ensure the information is present and correct.