CAIRO: Cairo province’s first constituency, which had recorded the highest voter turnout during the first round of Egypt’s staggered parliamentary elections, witnessed noticeably low turnout during the repeat Tuesday.
The Supreme Administrative Court had ruled in early December for elections of both party lists and single winner seats to be repeated in the Sahel constituency, which includes Shoubra, Rod El-Farag, El-Zawya El-Hamra and El-Sharabeya districts.
The court verdict annulled the results of the first round of elections in this constituency due to several violations.
At the time Abdel Moez Ibrahim, head of the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC), had admitted that the inadequate spaces allocated for sorting and counting the votes led to halting the counting process by the responsible judge in that constituency. The process resumed the next day after the spaces were expanded, but the resulting chaos led to invalidating 90 ballot boxes, 15 of which were missing. Over 2,600 boxes were left intact.
Ibrahim, however, stressed that the reported violations would not annul the elections overall.
Back then, SEC had proceeded with the run-offs in the hopes that the Supreme Administrative Court would overturn its previous ruling. In a press conference, Ibrahim had said the voting would continue but results would not be announced until a binding court order was issued.
When the court annulled the elections, SEC was forced to cancel the run-offs on the second day, to be repeated Jan. 10-11, with the run-offs scheduled for Jan. 17-18.
The few voters who cast their ballots Tuesday attributed the low turnout to the lack of enthusiasm about the electoral process as this would be the third time voters cast their ballots after the original round and its run-offs.
"Al-Ashraf School which is one of the biggest polling stations in Sahel hasn’t recorded 300 votes yet and it’s 2 pm," Mamdouh Magdy, representative of candidate Fahmy Abdou of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) said.
According to Hamdy Ahmed, one of the voters, people are tired of the long electoral process and are reluctant to leave their work and daily activities to come vote for the third time knowing that the run-offs will be the fourth time.
"People feel they already paid their dues by voting in the first round. It is not their fault that it is repeated," Mahmoud Abdel Jawad, another voter, said.
Nevine Helmy, another voter, believes that the low turnout is because people are no longer worried that they will have to pay the LE 500 fine.
"Those who came to vote for certain candidates during the first round already know now that Islamists are winning, so why come again if they don’t want to vote for them?" she added.
However, Om Islam, a supporter of the FJP who refused to give her name, said that a large number of people, especially the elderly, do not know who to vote for, noting that this means that there is no electoral campaigning on election day.
"The SEC is not solving any problem or fixing irregularity. They allow Islamists to forge the elections. This is the reason that the elections are repeated. They found 90 boxes that were forged in favor of the FJP," Nabila Fahmy, a Coptic voter, claimed, referring to the boxes that were allegedly found unsealed in the general counting and sorting station and were the reason why the admin court ordered a repeat.
However, Om Islam disagreed, denying any foul play.