GeoScope’s Crucial Role in Understanding South Africa’s Election and Voting Landscape

GeoScope has been the technology partner to the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in the implementation of their annual South African Social Attitude Survey (SASAS) for many years. As their technology partner, we oversee the programming of the questionnaire into the data collection technology to do Computer-Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI). Our responsibility includes setting up the tablets so that interviews can be captured real-time and uploaded to a central database. GeoScope supports the HSRC during the survey on a daily basis in addressing any problems experienced by field teams across the nine provinces.

The company also assists the HSRC in conducting quality control by using geospatial methods to monitor whether the field work teams reach the sampled areas and conduct sufficient interviews for each of the questionnaires being assessed. GeoScope has also managed the fieldwork in the Eastern Cape province for the last two years. In recent years, the company has also been the technology partner to the HSRC in implementing the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) Exit Poll to understand whether voters felt that the election was free and fair.

By not having to worry about technology aspects, researchers at the HSRC can focus on the analysis of the survey results as published by the SABC. SASAS is the most important social-attitude survey being conducted in South Africa annually and for the past 17 years. It provides critically important information for more effective decision making by government to address the many problems that the country faces.

Optimizing Voting Station Locations & Understanding Voter Values and Emotions – Key to Revitalise South Africa’s Democracy

With the national elections looming in May 2024, ensuring the continued development of democracy in South Africa is vitally important. Data from the 2023 survey shows that the youth are not voting because they are dissatisfied with government’s performance, political parties and democracy in the country. The youth raise one key issue and that is that they don’t trust politicians because they feel that they are not addressing their specific needs, are not sending them appropriate messages and are not improving their socio-economic conditions.

This does not bode well for democracy and the elections in 2024. GeoScope has conducted significant research on the use of values and emotions to understand voters perceptions of political parties and democracy. The HSRC’s research shows that 60% of youth believe it is important to vote but won’t because they are discontent with democracy and government accountability. They feel that there is a need for targeted interventions to empower the youth so they can sustain their livelihoods, this they feel is not happening.

By understanding the intricate connection between voters’ values and emotions and their behaviour, it is possible to gain important insights into the reasons why the youth abstain from voting. This facilitates the development of more suitable messages to encourage their participation in elections. As the SABC article indicates, the youth want these messages to be conveyed to them when they are involved in recreational, sporting and other activities of interest to them.

The SABC article also points to the accessibility of voting stations. If located a long way from where voters live and they do not have the capacity to handle all the voters from the district, then this will certainly discourage the youth from voting. GeoScope has provided the national government with guidelines on how to optimally locate services such as voting stations closer to the people and to ensure the voting station maximum capacity is not exceeded. This may point to a vitally important intervention to get more youth to participate in the elections and that is to set up voting stations closer to places where the youth congregate.

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