- The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has kicked off its 2024 National and Provincial Campaign today.
- To assist with communication to voters, the IEC has a WhatsApp chatbot.
- It is capable of answering basic elections-related questions, and shares access to official resources and links.
Next year will prove a pivotal one for the South African political landscape as the 2024 National Elections will decide the future for many in the country. Tasked with ensuring said elections are free and fair is the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), which today officially kicked off its National and Provincial Campaign.
At a media briefing held earlier today, a number of announcements were made, including the tools and resources that the IEC will be making publicly available to South African citizens in the lead up to, during, and after the national elections next year.
One of these tools, as spotted by Media Monitoring Africa director, William Bird, is a WhatsApp chatbot.
We checked out the chatbot for ourselves and it is fairly straightforward in terms of its use and functionality.
To that end, in order to access you simply need to search for the contact number 0600 88 0000 in WhatsApp, with the verified IEC account populating in the search result. Once selected, you simply need to type in the phrase “Hi” and the chatbot will reply with a welcome message and link to the voter registration website.
The chatbot will also ask if you’re new to the service. Should you reply yes, you will be prompted to share your name and which province you reside in.
From there, two lists of menu options are available to access, with queries ranging from information on political party funding, why your vote matters, how to report fraud, and the ability to ask questions.
We tried the latter option, but must admit that the feedback is rather limited.
That said, the chatbot has a large amount of resources at its disposal to share with users. On that front we asked the chatbot whether we were registered to vote in next year’s elections, and it replied with a link to the voter registration website, where you’ll need to plug in your ID number to find out if you are indeed registered.
It is by no means the most advanced chatbot we’ve encountered on WhatsApp, but for the simple purposes of being a tool for accessing resources, it is quite handy indeed, especially for those who may not know about the IEC’s website or other platforms.
With misinformation a concern for the upcoming elections, especially given how rife it is on social media these days, having access to vetted services like this will prove important.
Along with the WhatsApp chatbot, the IEC also has a dedicated mobile app you can download on iOS or Android.
[h/t – William Bird on X]