It's almost election season in South Africa, with municipal elections scheduled for the 3rd of August. I know what you're thinking - queues as far as the eye can see... The Electoral Commission of South Africa and Accenture Digital have figured out a way to make the experience a whole lot better - a mobile app!
Around 26 million of South Africa's 55.6 million people, roughly 46.8%, have registered to vote for this week’s election. The voting participation rate is in decline, decreasing from 77% in 2009 to 73% in 2014. Introducing a digital intervention may just be the key to getting people to take part in the polls.
The app allows users to receive election results, check registration details, find voting stations in their area and much more.
Additionally, the Electoral Commission has released a 3D Digital game – IXSA – to introduce young voters to the electoral process. Users can create their own characters and explore their environment while learning about the voting process.
This move appears to be aimed towards younger voters. This year, 2% of the registered votes are aged 18 to 19, the smallest age-group of voters, and potentially the hardest to attract. The app and game could be just the solution to get them engaged in the process.
“This game is about making the voting process accessible to young people in a format they are familiar with – their smartphones,” explained Dr Nomsa Masuku, the Electoral Commission's Deputy Chief Electoral Officer responsible for outreach.
This is a step forward for South Africa. Other countries on the continent are also using technology to better the electoral experience. Namibia introduced e-voting in 2014, a system that allowed people to tick their preferred candidate on a machine rather than using paper. It was a great success, it allowed for faster voting and results were released in less than 72 hours!
E-voting does not seem like a distant dream after all. We hope that the South African government continues to find ways to include digital interventions where possible.