Election 2019: What to expect as a first time voter

A young South African registers to vote for the first time

A young South African registers to vote for the first time in the 2019 Elections.


JOHANNESBURG - For many of South Africa's more than 26-million registered voters, May 8 will be the first time that they'll be casting their vote at the polls. 

According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), just under 200,000 registered voters are between the ages of 18 and 19. 


Registered voters according to the IEC website

Registered voters according to the IEC website, as at 11 April 2019.

IEC website

So what should first time voters expect on 8 May?

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to vote in the 2019 National and Provincial elections:

A brief guide on the step by step process of voting in the 2019 National and Provincial elections

A brief guide on the step by step process of voting in the 2019 National and Provincial elections. Graphic: IEC website.

IEC Website
  • Before voting day: Confirm your registration status, current voting station and ward number by using your ID number on the Independent Electoral Commission website. You can also SMS your ID number to 32810 (R1.00 per SMS).
  • On the day: Visit your local voting station at which you are registered in order to be able to make your mark on the national and provincial ballot paper. Should you be out of town on election day, you can visit any voting station, but you will only be allowed to make your cross on the national ballot.
  • In the queue: An election official will check your South African ID book or card, or temporary identification certificate to make sure you are registered.


  • At the entrance: An election official will scan your ID to ensure your name appears on the voters’ role.
  • At the voters’ roll and inking table: Once the election official has confirmed that you have the correct ID, are a registered voter and have not already voted, your name will be marked off the role and a small ink mark will be placed on your thumbnail.
  • At the ballot paper table: An election official will stamp the back of two ballot papers - one for your national vote and one for your provincial vote - and hand them to you. You will then be shown to the ballot booth. NOTE: Your vote is your secret, so you should not tell anyone at the voting station, which political party you have voted for. 
  • In the ballot booth: With an 'X', mark the political party for which you are voting for on both. Fold them separately, so your choices are not visible, and place them in the ballot box, which will be situated outside of the ballot booth.

Physically disabled or elderly voters:

  • If you are physically disabled, visually impaired, heavily pregnant or elderly, go to the front of the queue at the voting station and ask for assistance. 
  • The presiding officer may also assist you in casting your vote. An observer and, if available, two agents from different parties, must be present.

Incorrect ballots:

  • If a ballot paper is incorrectly marked and you realise this before placing it in the ballot box, you may ask the Presiding Officer for a new ballot paper. Ensure the incorrect ballot is marked as “cancelled”.

Once a ballot paper has been placed in the ballot box, it cannot be removed. 

You can now count yourself as officially being a South African voter.



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