CAIRO: After monitoring the voting process during a public referendum in Egypt on Saturday, the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement issued a report outlining its observations and recommendations.
The civil society organization first recommended a comprehensive review of the laws governing elections, stressing the need to form an independent judicial body to supervise them.
“This body will oversee the electoral process as a whole from registration, to campaigning and organizing election day,” the report said.
A budget must also be allocated for this committee, as well as a fulltime administrative body to manage the electoral process. Volunteers such as university students, civil society activists and civil society organizations are encouraged.
The report also recommended that the polling stations be better prepared for the elections to ensure the secrecy of the voting and to accommodate people disabilities and senior citizens.
This committee will also need to monitor vote-buying, bullying or the use of religion to sway voters outside polling stations.
The report further advised against holding elections on one day for several reasons, including the insufficient number of judges available to supervise the process considering the potential turn-out of 40 million eligible voters.
The report expressed the need for a new political parties law to allow “democratic, secular political powers to organize themselves and communicate with the people.”
Based on their observations on referendum day this “emerging democratic and civil political power” was denied the right to organize and communicate with the public.
On the other hand, political powers that are organized and well-financed have used religion to influence the vote. The sectarian and religion rhetoric adopted by Salafi groups and the Muslim Brotherhood in order to push for a yes vote was widely observed.
However, the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement noted that phenomena observed in previous elections such as preventing people from entering polling stations, thuggery and harassment were all absent on Saturday.