In near-empty polling stations, media personnel are stationed around waiting for celebrities to vote. However, inside the station is one of the electoral judges who, despite the lack of voters, expressed reserves about the media presence.
During the Daily News Egypt’s tour in the Dokki/Agouza district, judges spoke out on security measures, voters’ awareness, and new measures in the electoral process.
As journalists with legal passes to cover the elections, the Daily News Egypt team had to ask for the permission of the judges to take picture and statements from the members and aides of the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC).
Some judges knew of the permit that is granted to journalists and NGO workers by the SEC, while others had no knowledge of the existence of passes.
The judges also had different views on allowing media personnel into the polling stations. One judge in the Al-Madeena Al-Gameia School asked Daily News Egypt to remain in the polling stations until he goes over legal papers to check whether it is legal for reporters to take pictures.
“We have to check the law, so no one can criticise us,” he added. After a lengthy conversation, the judge agreed to allow taking pictures, but refused to have the number of the polling station in the pictures.
Other judges refused to have their pictures taken, but allowed reporters to film the members of the SEC. It is not known whether refusing to appear in the media is for security or administrative purposes.
Judges are heavily secured in these elections, with the army providing special planes to transform them into polling stations. Recently, Minister of Justice Ahmed Al-Zind told Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar that judges have been receiving threats through mobile phones.
Nevertheless, some judges were willing to pose for photos, and encouraged voters to pose while putting their ballots into the box.
Also, judicial personnel in different polling stations shared similar views when it came to the turnout, and announced that as the day progresses more people will show up. Many refused to comment on the age group.
A judge in the National Research Center station said there is clear organisation between the Ministry of Communications, the Ministry of Justice, and the security apparatus. “A new system introduced by the Ministry of Communications includes having electronic tablets to check the voter’s national identification card, to confirm his eligibility to vote in the polling station.”
A judge in the In Al-Shaheed Ahmed Abu Al-Dahab school told Daily News Egypt that the security forces have so far been successful in securing the electoral process. When asked about what occurs if the judge is suspicious of a person, he answered saying that although police and army soldiers are forbidden from entering the polling stations, they, by the order of the judged, are allowed to enter if any danger is seen or suspected.
The judges also said they observed some actions that illustrated that voters are not aware of their rights and duties in the process. In one case, a judge saw a voter about to mark the papers while standing in the middle of the polling station, so he demanded that he stand in the voting booth, where he is supposed to have privacy.