SHOUBRA EL-KHEIMA: Waiting Wednesday for voter turnout to match the first day of voting, judges supervising the polling stations of Qaliubiya’s Shubra El-Kheima blamed illiteracy and lack of awareness for the majority of violations.
Turnout on the second day of the third phase of People’s Assembly elections was lower than that of Tuesday, which some supervising judges estimated at 50 percent.
"We hope to see a higher turnout afternoon … you know Egyptians like to finish their work at the last minute," Judge Ahmed Abdel Fattah, of Cairo’s Court of Appeals who was supervising an electoral committee, told Daily News Egypt.
The first day, he said, witnessed higher turnout as the people who care enough to cast their votes came early.
Judge Hossam El-Din Ahmed, supervising another electoral committee, said that although Wednesday had a less than average turnout, more than 50 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots on the first day.
"I believe this percentage is higher than the most democratic country: the US," he said.
However, he theorized that this high percentage is because the Egyptian public is not busy doing anything of importance.
Judges said the majority of irregularities have been avoided after the first and second rounds of the staggered elections.
"The voters started to understand the electoral process and its requirements," Abdel Fattah said. "However, there should have been more awareness for the voters and the candidates as well. Some candidates are not aware of what they should do on election day or during the vote-counting process."
The thing that tires judges the most, he added, is that a large number of voters ask them to tell them who they should vote for.
"I figured out that the percentage of illiteracy among the female voters who came to cast their votes at this electoral committee reached 99 percent," one of the judges said on condition of anonymity.
Judges are authorized to fill the ballot for illiterate voters if they didn’t have a companion without directing them for a specific candidate.
At the first two stages of the elections, one of the prominent reported violations was of party representatives directing voters, especially illiterates, to vote for their parties, inside polling stations.
In the third phase, which started on Jan. 3, Abdel Fattah she hasn’t seen this particular violation.
In case he came across such case, he said he would take the ID of the representative and file a complaint to the general prosecution, which will then investigate the incident and transfer it court.
Work could exceed 15 hours a day, which according to Abdel Fattah is not only exhausting but impedes the judicial supervisors from performing their job efficiently.
For judges, the day doesn’t end when voters cast the last ballot of the day.
"The judges on reserve only assist us at the general electoral committees where votes are counted," he said.
After the sealed ballot boxes are transferred by the armed forces to the general committees and the counting begins, judges face another obstacle, according to Abdel Fattah.
"Candidates and a large number of their representatives attend the counting and they are anxious to hear the results, so they rush judges who are counting the ballots," he explained. "Sometimes a judge might turn edgy and stops the counting until calm is restored."
Judges, Abdel Fattah said, are demanding the Supreme Electoral Committee (SEC) to take into account the seniority of judges while assigning them to the general and the sub-electoral committees.
"We are all like each other from a professional standpoint, but some senior judges … would have preferred to work in the general committees," he told DNE.