This weekend, the final weekend you can register to vote in South Africa’s 2016 municipal election, Facebook is running its first-ever voter registration campaign in Africa, in partnership with the South African Electoral Commission.
People over the age of 18 who log on to Facebook after noon on Saturday, 9 April, will see a message at the top of their newsfeed which reminds them to register to vote. By clicking a link in the message, people will be directed to the Electoral Commission website, which will give people information about how to register to vote. You’ll also be able to share with your friends that you’ve registered.
The message will be rolled out over a 24-hour period to encourage people to register ahead of the elections in August.
Past studies have found that voters who see more of their Facebook friends talking about voting are more likely to vote themselves. Rolling out the Voter Registration button is a small way that Facebook is helping to encourage people to take part in the democratic process.
Ebele Okobi – Head of Public Policy for Africa, Facebook, said: “With more than 13 million people in South Africa using Facebook, our platform is where many South Africans discuss their hopes for South Africa’s future. We hope that through partnerships like this one with the Electoral Commission, we can make sure those conversations lead to higher turnout on 3 August when South Africa goes to the polls.”
She added: “Voter turnout is an important issue around the world and in South Africa, especially among younger people. The Voter Registration button will make it easy for voters to share that they are taking part in the election and act as a reminder to others to take part.”
Marco Granelli, the Electoral Commission’s senior manager for communications, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Facebook to reach those who will be eligible to vote on polling day. Our records show that about 80 percent of eligible voters who are not yet registered are under 30 years old. Facebook is a great way for us to be able to get a message directly to young people who may otherwise be hard to reach and to engage with young people around the importance of voting. We urge anyone who’s not yet registered to vote to sign up now to that they can have their say in August.”
This year for the first time the Electoral Commission’s Contact Centre is also responding to queries from voters posted on Facebook and other social media sites.
Similar ‘I’m a Voter’ and Voter Registration buttons have been used in the United States during the last three US elections, the UK election, for the EU parliamentary elections and in the world’s largest democracy, India – where the megaphone reached 31m people and 4.3m people shared that they’d voted.