Violations by parliamentary candidates, which marked the first and second round of elections in October in 14 governorates, seem to have increased in a series of electoral bribes, illegal campaigning and attempts to influence voters’ opinions.
Four members of the Al-Nour Party were arrested in Beni Suef for allegedly violating the laws regulating the promotion of candidates during voting days.
The mobilising of voters and their transportation to polling stations come on top of the violations witnessed. Mohamed El-Shentnawy, from the Maat foundation’s international joint observatory mission, explained to Daily News Egypt how candidates mobilise voters.
“In the first round, when you had 40 candidates for instance in one constituency, each one would mobilise 10 voters and you would have a total of 100 ‘directed’ voters. In the runoff, we still have the same number of voters but divided among only four candidates,” El-Shnentawy said.
Maat’s latest report highlighted the increase of voter brokers, especially in Alexandria, in favour of the Free Egyptians Party (FEP) candidates.
Brokers, who could also be the drivers who transport the voters, are in charge of mobilising the crowds. Even members of electoral campaigns, which include a large number of youth, were more aggressive, according to the clashes and arrests reported in observatory reports.
“Yesterday in Alexandria, in the Al-Atarin constituency, our observer was tracing voters’ bribes, but those who were distributing tried to prevent her as she made her way out. Security forces arrested them and a police report was filed,” El-Shnentawy stated.
He added that the police and security forces were keen on protecting citizens first, then securing the election process.
Maat further observed the distribution of food supplies to voters, as a form of bribery, as well as drugs. El-Shnentawy said a polling station in an area in Sohag is on the other side of the river and requires a boat to reach it.
“Right where you are supposed to take the boat, supporters of certain candidates are waiting, and our observer could not even take photographs for his own sake, as security forces were across the river,” El-Shnentawy stated.
He also spoke of how civil society organisations are used to bribe voters, saying a number of businessmen who own charity organisations used them to promote or serve certain candidates.
This especially took place before voting days. Candidates visit mosques for instance while being supervised by a civic organisation. They donate money, or use those organisations for activities and events aimed at promoting them.
“Our observer confirmed that, in the governorate of Minya, an organisation gathered and paid women to vote for a particular candidate, but it was discovered and a police report was filed,” El-Shnentawy said.
Meanwhile, the National Council for Human Rights’ (NCHR) operation room in Giza issued a report in which it cited two violations related to electoral procedures.
There were voting cards without serial numbers unlike the usual cards, and phosphoric ink was unavailable in several places in the Beheira and Giza governorates. They are major guarantees of election transparency.
A member of the NCHR’s operation room told Daily News Egypt Wednesday that they informed the SEC of the missing serial numbers, but it stated that it could have been a mistake in printing.
“We also noticed that the SEC and polling stations took the negativities of the first round into consideration and avoided many mistakes in the runoff,” Gamael, an NCHR official said.
He added that the SEC has not responded to their complaint about the phosphoric ink, but explained that in some cases the SEC directly takes measures to solve problems without responding to each complaint.
SEC spokesperson Omar Marwan had clarified that the design of voting cards was changed in runoff elections in order to avoid forgery or duplications from the first round.
Moreover, Deputy Prime Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Refaat Al-Komsan told Daily News Egypt Wednesday that printing houses had weeks to print in the first round and just a couple of days in the second round.
“Voting cards only have serial numbers to compare them with the original number of cards for verification of the counts, but they cannot contain other codes to guarantee secret ballots,” he said.
The NCHR further reported clashes and violence among supporters of different candidates.