HSRC survey finds trust in IEC by voters was high

A Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) survey has found that trust in the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) was high among voters, as millions cast their vote in the National and Provincial Elections (NPE) on Wednesday, 29 May.

This is according to the HSRC’s preliminary findings on the survey conducted on Election Day, as South Africans voted, marking 30 years since the historic first democratic elections in 1994.

The HSRC released its preliminary findings at the IEC national Results Operations Centre (ROC) in Midrand on Friday.

In the Election Satisfaction Survey (ESS), voters were asked questions about the election process, including whether the 2024 NPE were free and fair.

The survey aimed to establish the opinions and perceptions of voters and their electoral experience.

The research sampled 300 voting stations selected countrywide, proportional to race, geographic type and the number of voting stations in each province.

‘Trust in the Electoral Commission was high and almost all voters
felt that they were safe to cast their ballot in secrecy,’ the survey found.

According to the HSRC’s Dr Benjamin Roberts, trust in the country’s election management body is well in the 80% rate.

‘The trust in the commission remains dominant… Amongst the general public, trust in the commission has been declining, as it has in all core political institutions over the last decade and a half, although the IEC remains among the trusted institutions in the country.

‘But obviously, the voting public trust is much higher.’

Roberts believes that this is predominantly because those who had a positive experience leaving the aspect of the queuing time translates to the validation of the institution.

‘The other reason is that for many South Africans, the predominant response to unhappiness with the function of the political system is the abstention and not electoral turnout. We’re finding increasing polarisation of happier voters and discontent and abstinence. That’s what’s probably driving the positive evaluations,’
said Roberts.

Meanwhile, results indicated that voters overwhelmingly believed the 2024 NPE were free and fair and positively rated the conduct of officials at voting stations.

‘Almost all voters felt that they were safe to cast their ballot in secrecy,’ said Roberts.

The majority of voters also felt that the IEC adequately considered the needs of vulnerable groups, including the elderly and people with disabilities.

However, the finding showed that queuing times at voting stations increased relative to more recent elections, which had a bearing on electoral evaluations.

In addition, most voters were pleased with the ballot papers, with 58% indicating they were ‘very satisfied’ and 35% told researchers they were ‘satisfied’.

However, 38% wanted to improve the ballot paper for future elections.

In addition, fewer people believe that their vote counts than those who believe they must vote.

Coercion and availability of information

Shifting focus to coercion, 12% reported experiencing someone trying to f
orce them to vote for a certain political party or candidate, while nine percent said it happened before Election Day.

Four percent said they were forced by party agents and four percent by friends and family.

‘Of those reporting coercion, 73% reported that it had no bearing on electoral choice, 25% said it did and two percent uncertain. This translates into three percent of all voters who changed their vote,’ Roberts said.

On the level of information, roughly 13% stated that they had far too little information and 10% said they had too little information about the voting procedures.

Meanwhile, 42% said that the IEC website was ‘very useful’ in providing information and education and 23% said ‘somewhat useful’.

According to the survey, 52% said that the IEC voter education campaigns were ‘very useful’ in providing information and education and 28% said ‘somewhat useful’. – SAnews.gov.za

Source: South African Government News Agency