Only journalists who are authorised by the Supreme Electoral Committee (SEC) will be allowed to cover the referendum on the draft constitution, the SEC announced.
The committee detailed the regulations necessary for allowing media outlets to cover the referendum, due to be held on 14 and 15 January.
The press passes necessary to oversee the referendum are due to be issued no later than 12 January, reported state-run news agency MENA, citing an SEC press release. The SEC added that it is entitled to turn down incomplete applications submitted by media outlets to cover the referendum.
Allowing journalists and media practitioners inside polling stations requires the permission of the head of the stations, reported MENA. The SEC prohibited any interference from journalists in the voting process. Journalists and media practitioners are not allowed to “voice observations or objections” or interview voters or employees inside the polling station.
The SEC allows journalists to be present inside polling stations for no longer than 30 minutes during the voting process. They are also not allowed to take photos without permission from the head of the station.
When counting the votes, authorised journalists are allowed to oversee the process as well as attend the announcement of the results. Should the polling station be crowded during the vote-counting process, the SEC allows the head of the station to “conduct a draw and therefore choose which authorised journalists will remain inside the station”.
Judges overseeing the voting process are expected to arrive at their assigned polling stations at least one hour before the voting is scheduled to begin to ensure that the stations are ready to receive voters, reported MENA. The voting process is due to begin at 9am.
The SEC stated that citizens will be allowed to vote after they provide their national ID cards or their passports, as per the law governing the right to political participation. Women who cover their faces will be inspected either by the head of the polling station or one of the female employees overseeing the voting process. The SEC also delegated the head of the polling station to help disabled voters cast their ballots.
After the voting process ends on 14 January, the head of each polling station is responsible for sealing the ballot boxes, providing each box with a recorded serial number and recording the number of voters. The station’s head is also responsible for locking the polling station, which guards will be assigned to secure until voting resumes on 15 January.
Official Spokesperson of the Supreme Electoral Committee (SEC) Nasr El-Din Shi’eshe’ said last week that around 15,000 judges will oversee the constitutional referendum.
Egyptian expatriates are expected to begin voting on the constitution on Wednesday.
The draft constitution has been scrutinised by international human rights watchdog Amnesty International, which said that the text falls short of Egypt’s international human rights obligations despite fixing some deficiencies in the 2012 constitution. Other domestic civil society organisations have also criticised the text.