Egyptians went to polling stations Saturday morning to vote in the first phase of the new House of Representatives elections, slated at home for Saturday and Sunday.
The first stage vote, which is being held in 14 governorates, is going smoothly without any complaints, according to statements made by the chairman of the Egyptian National Elections Authority (NEA) Lasheen Ibrahim..
The governorates included are Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, El-Wadi El-Gedid, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira and Matrouh.
The two-day vote for the second chamber of the country’s parliament is being held at 10,240 polling stations across the 14 governorates.
The NEA said all polling stations opened their doors on time, at 9am local time, with tight anti-coronavirus safety measures already implemented.
Voters wearing protective masks were seen standing in lines outside different polling stations as they waited to cast their vote.
The House election is the second election to be held in Egypt amid the coronavirus pandemic. The first being the Senate vote which had already been held in August.
Security forces were seen at vital locations to secure the polling stations in the first stage governorates.
The stations are also supported by policemen to help senior citizens when casting their vote, as well as female police officers who were there assisting female voters.
According to various reports, the turnout at polling stations during the first hours of the first day varied from light to heavy, especially at Upper Egypt's polling stations.
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly cast his ballot at a polling station in Giza's Sheikh Zayed district soon after voting kicked off. Other top government officials and high-profile figures voted early during the day, including Finance Minister Mohamed Maait, Solidarity Minister Nevin El-Qabbaj, and others, in addition to Egypt's Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam, and other governors.
The prime minister inspected the implementation of preventive measures at polling stations in light of the coronavirus pandemic while he voted in his station at the Egyptian Japanese School.
Madbouly urged citizens to participate in the elections in light of the democratic atmosphere that Egypt enjoys, which ensures that people cast their vote freely and elect those who deserve to represent the people.
The premier said the Parliament will have its two chambers of the House and the Senate full and prepared after the House elections are concluded, in order to back democracy and enrich the legislative role in Egypt.
People wait in line on the first day of the parliamentary election outside a polling station in Giza, Egypt, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. Egyptians began voting Saturday in the first stage of a parliamentary election, a vote that is highly likely to produce a toothless House of Representatives packed with supporters of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. AP
The Mufti, after casting his vote at a polling station in northern Egypt’s Beheira, urged citizens to “actively" participate and express their opinion in the elections, calling it a “national duty”.
A woman, mask-clad due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, casts her ballot at a polling station in El-Ayyat, south of the Egyptian capital on October 24, 2020, during the first stage of the lower house elections. AFP
According to the NEA, all polls are scheduled to close their door at 9pm local time.
A hotline 19826 has been designated by the NEA to receive questions and complaints related to the elections, the chairman of the NEA, Lasheen Ibrahim said on Saturday, adding that an operation room has been also formed at its premises to follow up the voting and counting processes and report complaints.
A man, mask-clad due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, shows his identification card as he arrives to vote at a polling station in El-Ayyat, south of the Egyptian capital on October 24, 2020, during the first stage of the lower house elections. AFP
Almost 4,000 individual candidates and eight coalition lists are competing over 568 seats in this election. Half the seats will be filled through the individual candidacy system and the rest through party lists.
A total of 284 seats will be up for grabs in the first stage, with half -- 142 seats -- allocated to individual candidates, and the other half to party lists.
The results of the first round of voting are expected in the coming week. And run-off rounds will take place on 23-24 November.
The second phase will see a first-round on 7-8 November and run-offs on 7-8 December.
The polls are supervised by 11,000 judges, and local and foreign media, human rights organisations and candidate representatives will be able to monitor the voting.
The total number of eligible voters in Egypt is 63 million, out of a population of 100 million. The eligible voters in the first stage are estimated to be nearly 33 million.
Elections for the lower house of parliament typically attract more Egyptian voters than elections for an upper chamber.
Elections for the recently re-established upper chamber, the Senate, were held this summer. According to the NEA’s official numbers, only 14.23 percent of eligible voters participated in the initial voting, while 10.22 percent participated in the run-off rounds.