Hansie Smit
Hansie Smit

It’s your municipality, pal

The municipal elections are here and with it voter apathy. Or translated: young people who don’t vote. To be fair, the word municipal has about as much appeal to a young person as a fun-filled evening playing bridge. Adding elections to municipal makes it even worse. To grab the attention of a young person you need something that packs punch. Like good-looking vampires that suck blood and fall in love. The IEC gave it a good go with the catch phrase “Love your South Africa” done in the very hip, very now Gill Sans Ultra font but I don’t think that’ll do it.

Problem is the municipal elections don’t have much going for it. It’s like the Golden Globes: votes are counted and there are winners but you just know there is something bigger out there — something more to hold out for. Young people want big things and they want it now. Instant gratification is the name of the game when you’re young. It’s the dentist principle. Visiting the dentist sucked big time back then but you went because you knew there was a sucker waiting at the end of it (I mean the sweet, not your mom). Voting polls are dentist rooms for people aged 18-25. Dentist rooms without red suigstokkies. They don’t want to be there. They want to be MXing it and texting it and apping it. Young people vote by clicking on a thumbs up sign on Facebook. Making a cross with a pencil on paper is, like, so last millennium.

The quick fix to get infants young people to vote will be for the IEC and MXit to have a sit-down and come up with a funky interface that allows them to vote without leaving the comfort of their cellphone screens. But we all know that will never happen. Perhaps they should change the ballot so it’s more relevant to someone whose priorities include fighting acne and downloading Justin Bieber songs. Maybe a more familial approach is what’s needed. On a colourful ballot with lots of pictures the ANC becomes “head of the household who has the final say”. The DA becomes “mom who opposes the head of the household but without the power to influence him” and Cope, “that crazy uncle having trouble sorting himself out”. At the top a nice big headline reads: “Who do you want to rule your life?” Stick a red sucker on the back and we might just manage to grab a split second of Generation Y Should I Care’s? attention. That’s assuming they went to the trouble of registering and going down to the voting stations to begin with. Hey, maybe the IEC should fly in Justin Bieber and have him perform at the voting stations throughout voting day. That will get the apathetic tweens there in droves.

Thankfully, there is absolutely no chance of that happening either.

(Pssst, this past weekend was voter registration weekend but don’t worry kids there will be many more. The IEC hasn’t even decided — or “proclaimed” as the say on their website — on a date for the elections yet. So if you’re young and ignorant, dust off your ID book — green with your photo in — and head down to a registration office in your town when the next date rolls by. This is important, guys. Who do you think drives away the garbage, fixes street lamps and cuts off electricity when no one pays? It’s your municipality, pal.)