Low turnout on last day of parliamentary elections, reports of violations

Polling stations closed their doors at 9 pm on Wednesday, the last day in the last phase of Egypt’s 2015 parliamentary elections, which has witnessed an extremely low voter turnout rate, along with numerous reports of ballot-buying and a host of other electoral violations.

While the first stage of the second phase of elections witnessed an aggregate turnout of 29.83 percent, several polling stations in Cairo reported witnessing single digit turnouts. According to official results announced last week, Cairo saw a turnout of just 19.96 percent.

Yet the second stage of the second phase may register an even lower turnout.

The official spokesperson for the High Elections Committee, Judge Omar Marwan, reported that the results of this second stage of the second phase of parliamentary elections – conducted in 13 out of Egypt’s 27 governorates – would be announced either on Thursday evening or on Friday.

The expatriate vote (held on November 30 and December 1) is currently being totaled into the domestic vote (held on December 1 and 2).

On Wednesday, Marwan announced that more than 17,500 expatriate Egyptians – from well over 600,000 eligible voters abroad – had cast their ballots during this round of elections; This number represents less than a 3 percent turnout. Marwan added that these expat votes are now being tallied.

However, the results of four remaining electoral circuits are still to be calculated into this grand total as of early next week.

According to a statement released by Marwan, there are four circuits (from the first stage of elections last month, involving 14 governorates) which are to have electoral runoffs from December 5 to 7 (for both expat and domestic voters).

These four circuits are Beni Suef, the town of Wasta (also in the Beni Suef governorate) the Raml circuit of Alexandria, and Damanhour in the Beheira governorate. The HEC had annulled last month’s elections in these four circuits in light of legal, electoral, and technical irregularities.

As for the most recent electoral violations, reported on Sunday, and announced by Marwan in a televised press conference: 15 polling stations opened their gates behind schedule, and another two polling stations were temporarily shut down due to scuffles between electoral rivals.

Marwan added that a woman assaulted troops who had been deployed to secure a polling station, and “the necessary legal measures have been taken against her.”

Another 36 violations were reported to the HEC, all pertaining to campaigners’ violations.

According to Marwan, numerous complaints have been filed to the HEC regarding incidents of ballot-buying. The judge explained that posting videos online of such alleged acts is not sufficient to constitute an official complaint.

Marwan added that a details of such violations – including the names of those involved and their specific locations, the amounts of money being disbursed, and the time of the incident  must be included in an official complaint to the HEC, along with video evidence. 

The second phase of elections have taken place in Cairo, Damietta, Daqahliya, Gharbeya, Ismailia, Kafr al-Sheikh, Monufiya, Port Said, Qalyubiya, Sharqiya, Suez, along with both North and South Sinai.

According to HEC, the 102 electoral circuits in this second phase of elections have been conducted in 12,496 polling stations, under complete judicial supervision.  

In this second phase a total of 2,894 parliamentary candidates are competing for 222 seats in the upcoming parliament – from a total of 596 seats.

From these 596 seats, 448 seats are to be elected as individual candidates, while another 120 are to be elected by winners-take all lists. Another 28 parliamentarians are to be appointed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

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