SHOUBRA EL-KHEIMA: Residents of the district of Shoubra El-Khiema in Qailubiya flocked to polling stations Wednesday in the first post-Mubarak polls, some recalling their previous experience of voting in legislative elections.
Noting a major change in the organization of the electoral process, 30-year-old Mostafa Mohamed said: "I am used to voting, I’ve casted my ballot ever since I was eligible to vote”, adding that this time around, he felt a change in the electoral atmosphere from the moment he reached the polling station.
"Before the revolution, some people affiliated to the now dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP) pressured voters to vote for the party’s candidates and sometimes tried to coerce them with bribes," he said.
Samah Hamdy, who says she voted a couple of times before the revolution, recalls that "back then, if you did not vote for the candidate they told you to vote for, they would tear up your ballot paper."
Today, she says, no one can do that and no one pressures voters to support their candidates.
"However, there are representatives of some parties, especially Islamists like [the Salafi] Al-Nour Party and [the Muslim Brotherhood’s] Freedom and Justice Party, who try to direct you to vote for their candidates but without pressure," Hamdy said.
Voter Khadra Abdel Hafiz, agreed that the representatives of the two Islamist parties were present around her polling station, but said that they don’t approach voters or attempt to sway them.
"You can leave them and walk away, everyone is free to do what they want now," she said.
Another voter who preferred to remain anonymous, said that he saw many FJP representatives near the polling stations.
"Those who are still undecided about which candidate to support, are influenced by their sweet talk about religion," he complained.
Some women wearing the full face cover (niqab) were reportedly seen campaigning for Al-Nour in Shoubra El-Khiema, while others with laptops helping voters with details about their electoral committees, urged people to vote for the FJP.
An army soldier securing one of the polling stations said that he was waiting to witness them directing voters to justify removing them from the area.
"Whenever they see us coming in our uniform they stop their work and we aren’t able to do anything to them," he told Daily News Egypt.
Emad Abdel Ghaffour, head of Al-Nour, had previously told DNE that such incidents of illegal electoral campaigning are only individual cases unauthorized by the party.
Although the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) bans campaigning on election day, candidates still do it because breaking the law is part of their “ethical code”, said Judge Hossam El-Din Ahmed, who was overseeing one of the electoral committees.
"If you want to do something illegal, you’ll find loopholes to help you do it," he said.