According to the latest estimates there are 38.5 million people of voting age in the country. Of these almost 27 million are registered to vote in next weeks’ election.
As an unknown proportion of the 38.5-million people of voting age are non-citizens (and are not entitled to vote) the registration rate among citizens of voting age is probably higher 70 percent.
In the population at large women slightly outnumber men slightly – for every 100 men there are 107 women.
Among registered voters women outnumber men more dramatically. For every 100 registered male voters there are 122 women registered to vote. This demographic accounts for the emergence of political parties focused on female voters.
In terms of age groups the largest concentration of population are among those aged 20-29 (10.4 million). However only half of this group are currently registered to vote.
While there are fewer than five million residents aged 30-39 two-thirds of people in this age group are registered to vote. This results in voters aged 30-39 making up the single largest voting age block (6.7 million).
While South Africa has a relatively young population low registration rates in this group reduces their impact on the election outcome. There are almost twice as many registered voters who are 80 years or older (0.6 million) than there are registered voters aged 18-19 (0.3 million).
In fact the number of registered voters aged 80 or more exceeds official estimates of the size of that population group. This is likely due to the IEC failing to remove all people who have passed away from the voters roll.
The IEC relies on the Department of Home Affairs to provide it with the identity of people who have passed away and any lapses on their part will result in the IEC failing to remove their names from the voters roll.
The graphic below compares the population of the relevant age cohorts with the number of people registered to vote. It indicates that less than one-in-five people aged 18-19 have registered to vote. Registered voters aged 18-19 make up only 1.2 percent of the electorate.
Voters aged 18-29 make up 21 percent of the electorate. In other word 80 percent of voters are over the age of 29.
The figures suggest that political parties may make gains by courting the female vote. However those parties hoping to draw on the support of the youth face will find it harder to make an impact on the election outcome even if they do attract votes from that demographic.