BANHA: At Kafr Shokr, one of Qaliubiya’s constituencies, the number of army personnel securing the polling station seemed to exceed the number of voters.
Voters however were optimistic, saying the low turnout was only because people were at work, with the number sure to increase after 5 pm.
With the 2010 elections in mind, the comparison was in the favor of this year’s turnout in the hometown of Mahmoud Mohieldin, former investment minister and prominent figure of the toppled regime.
"Before the revolution, we were used to the idea that the National Democratic Party would cast our votes for us while we were sleeping," Abdallah Hassan, a voter, said. The now-disbanded NDP had ruled the country under the leadership of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
Hassan said voters are facing no pressure to choose certain candidates.
Hassan Abdel Meguid said that the few people who participated in elections used to vote for NDP candidates.
"Now, everyone is voting for whoever would best serve them and the country," he said.
Around 2.88 million eligible voters in Qaliubiya are choosing between 243 individual candidates and 24 party lists. The candidates are contesting 18 seats; 12 for party lists in two constituencies and six for individual seats in three constituencies.
Mohamed Al-Beltagy, FJP leader and the party’s Cairo-secretary, tops the party’s list in Qaliubiya’s south constituency.
On the same list, that includes candidates of the Democratic Alliance spearheaded by the FJP, is Mohamed Bayoumi, secretary general of Al-Karama Party.
Mohsen Rady, member of MB’s parliamentary bloc in the 2005 parliament, is vying for the individual professional seat in Qaliubiya’s north constituency.
On top of the Liberal Al-Wafd’s list, Ahmed Mohamed Sarhan, son of the party’s vice head, is running in Qaliubiya’s north constituency.
The main parties contesting in Qaliubiya are the FJP, Al-Nour, the Egyptian Bloc, Al-Wasat, the Revolution Continues Alliance and Al-Wafd.
Prior to Jan. 25, violations were rampant, according to Mahmoud Nawar, an accountant.
"Today, we are voting for the best candidates. I came to cast my vote for the country to move forward and to boost the economy," he told Daily News Egypt. "We are tired of the thieves who storm into our houses and rob us."
Ahmed Mokhtar, vice head of Liberty Center for Human Rights who came to cast his vote at one of Banha’s polling stations, said that he did not witness any violations around the schools that are located next to each other.
"I can guarantee that this election is honest," he said.
The province also saw a low voter turnout.
However, monitors and a few voters reported a few irregularities that were similar to those of the first stage of the parliamentary elections.
"No one asked to see my face to check my identity. The ladies at the electoral committee did not ask me to remove the niqab," Zahraa Shaaban, a housewife, said after she cast her vote.
Later, she said, the judge supervising the station decided to look at the faces of the voters wearing the niqab himself instead of the female employees who were assisting him.
"We monitored this irregularity in various schools today especially in El-Safen area which is affiliated to Qaliubiya as well," Mahmoud Zakaria, a monitor from Egyptian Human Rights Organization, said.
Ahmed Zakaria, a monitor affiliated with the Supreme Electoral Committee (SEC), told DNE that he saw representatives of the Salafi Al-Nour Party directing voters to choose their candidates at one of Banha’s polling stations.
A number of voters mentioned irregularities by representatives of the Islamists on election day and the day before.
"Yesterday, despite the ban on the electoral campaigning, a Salafi campaigner affiliated to Al-Nour Party came to my house to tell me to vote for his party," Mostafa Al-Qady, a voter from Banha, said.
Several women reportedly affiliated with the FJP were also seen around Banha’s polling stations directing voters towards their polling stations.
"I also saw a number of people sitting with laptops around my polling station to assist people by giving them their voting numbers and their polling stations by writing them on the back of their flyers," Al-Qady said.
Al-Qady said campaigners were trying to sway the vote in the FJP’s favor using religion.
He said the elections were “forged.”
“If there was a real high turnout, [the FJP] would have lost because the educated people will not be affected by their claim that they are the only group that knows God," Al-Qady added.
On the other hand, Zakaria said he witnessed a number of broken and cracked boxes so he directly informed the SEC which decided to exclude those boxes in the counting process.