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28 May 2024

HSRC calls on all voters to participate in the Election Satisfaction Survey

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) is calling on all voters to participate in the all-important, countrywide Election Satisfaction Survey (ESS). The survey will take place on 29 May 2024, as South Africans vote in the National and Provincial Elections, marking 30 years since the historic first democratic elections in the country in 1994.

Throughout the day, HSRC interviewers (data collectors) based at select voting stations around the country will conduct the survey on behalf of the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).

The ESS series assesses the opinions and perceptions of a representative sample of voters on election day to determine whether the elections are considered free and fair. The survey series further aims to assess the operational efficiency of the IEC. The survey results are usually available 48 hours after the election as a source of evidence that informs the IEC’s official declaration that the elections are free and fair. Post-election, the results are normally used to inform operational decision-making in preparing for successive polls.

The survey consists of a representative sample of 300 voting stations that have been selected countrywide. At each voting station, 50 randomly selected voters will be interviewed throughout election day, translating to a target of 15,000 voter respondents. The selection of the 300 voting stations takes into account provincial distribution, the number of registered voters per voting station, and other essential demographic characteristics. Our data collectors, easily identifiable by their HSRC-marked bibs and identity cards, will introduce themselves and explain the purpose of the study. After obtaining consent, they will complete a questionnaire with each participant.

Since the late 1990s, the IEC has partnered with the HSRC to conduct research aimed at enhancing electoral democracy. This collaboration focuses on generating survey-based evidence to inform operational planning and outreach efforts.

Apart from the ESS series, this framework of surveying also includes a pre-election survey known as the nationally representative Voter Participation Survey. Both survey series have been conducted for national and provincial as well as municipal elections for more than a decade, allowing for the monitoring of key patterns and trends.

Public opinion surveys of this type are an essential and valuable tool for obtaining a national picture of voters’ views as well as their electoral experiences and evaluations. Understanding electoral attitudes, behaviour and experiences is fundamental in understanding the functioning of electoral democracy over time at an institutional and societal level.

Senior researcher Ngqapheli Mchunu spoke to eNCA about the survey; watch:

See you at the polls! Think hard before you make your mark.

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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