The Election Resource Centre (ERC) says youth form a key part of the electoral process hence becomes vital that they participate to exercise their right to vote.
In a statement, ERC said reiterated that youth must be made aware that the electoral process is ongoing and does not start on election day.
The election watchdog said If young people do not register to vote and participate in elections, their distinct interests are more likely to be ignored or neglected by policy-makers.
“Often when we hear about elections or voting, the discussion focuses on “Election Day”. However, an important part of the pre-voting process occurs before the actual election day—voter registration.
“The requirement of registering to vote before being able to cast a ballot has been integral to how Zimbabwean democracy functions and provides both barriers and opportunities to voter participation.
“Voter registration is a systematic process which determines the eligibility of citizens to vote in an election. It is generally agreed that voter registration serves three main purposes; to ensure that everyone eligible to vote can do so; prevent those not legally entitled to vote from voting and to curb multiple voting by an individual,” ERC said.
Zimbabwe’s youth represent over 60% of the population and about 44% of the total voters’ roll. Young people should vote to ensure high overall turnout.
The practice and procedure for voter registration are prescribed in section 17A of the Electoral Act.
A lack of voter education on registration has led to widespread political lethargy which ultimately results in low voter turnout, with by-elections since 2018 pulling an average voter turnout of 48%.
This has the potential impact of undermining the trust in and legitimacy of democracies as democracies derive legitimacy from the participation of citizens.
“Voter registration following the 2018 harmonised elections has been worryingly low, with 1444 people registering in 2019 according to a ZEC 2019 Report, which is concerning considering the fact that since 2018 approximately 1 million youths became eligible to register to vote. Why it is important to register to vote;
“An individual’s right to vote ties that person to our social order, even if that person chooses not to exercise that right. Voting represents the beginning; everything else in our democracy follows the right to vote,” ERC further stated.