Quick Facts on Local Government Elections

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Number of elections 

The 2021 Local Government Elections will see elections taking place in 257 municipalities. It is the same number of municipalities that were contested in 2016, after some municipalities were combined to bring the number down from 278 in 2011. 

A total of 4 468 wards will be contested, up from 4 392 wards five years ago.  

Independent candidates 

Independents can only contest Ward seats in a local election while PR-designated seats are chosen by political parties.  

Unlike parties, to contest a municipal election as an independent ward candidate, an individual must be nominated and then submit the required documents during the candidate nomination period.  

There has been a steady increase in the number of independent candidates since the 2000 local government elections, despite a slight drop in 2006 – 672 in 2000;  663 in 2006;  754 in 2011;  and 855 in 2016. 

Special Votes 

Special Votes were introduced for the first time in the 2011 local government elections.    

Law provides for two types of special votes, namely those who cannot travel to the voting station due to physical infirmity, disability, pregnancy and those who can visit a voting station but cannot do so on Election Day. 

A total of 741 721 applications for special votes were received, which was far more than the 293 693 applications received in 2011.  

Of this number, 719 226 special vote applications were approved, 315 597 (43.8%) of which were home visits and 403 629 (56.1%) were approved voting station visits; 

Voting using a special vote was done over two days, on the 1st and 2nd August 2016. 

Voters’ roll 

A record 26 333 353 million eligible South Africans registered to vote in the election. Females represented 55% of the total registered population. The voters’ roll recorded a net growth of 2 668 307 voters since the 2011 elections. The voters’ roll has grown by 44.90% since its establishment in 1999 when it recorded 18 172 751 voters. The largest age category on the voters’ roll is the “30 to 39” band with 6 435 335 voters, representing 24% of the registered population. The second-largest age category on the voters’ roll is the “20 to 29” band with 5 776 599 voters, representing 22% of the registered population.

There were 14 465 896 female voters (55%) compared to 11 867 457 male voters (45%).

Ballot for visually-impaired

The Commission partnered with Blind SA and the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB) to develop a special new 32-window cardboard ballot template to allow visually impaired voters to vote unaided in the elections.

An even bigger double-column 40-window cardboard UBT was used in the City of Cape Town metropolitan (metro) municipal council elections, where 36 parties contested the elections. The Cape Town ballot paper was the largest yet seen in a South African election. It was about A3 in size (420mm x 384mm) – approximately twice the size of a traditional ballot paper.

The Electoral Commission first developed a UBT, together with SANCB, for use in the 2011 Local Government Elections.

Election officials were trained to assist visually impaired voters to mark their ballots unaided with the use of a UBT and to cast their vote.