All preliminary indicators from Egypt's 2018 presidential elections indicate that incumbent President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has achieved a landslide victory, securing over 90 percent of the vote, while the voter turnout is expected to be over 40 percent of eligible voters, state TV reported.
Vote counting began late on Wednesday after polls closed, and is still ongoing at some polling stations in a few governorates around the country.
The official results are set to be announced by the National Elections Authority (NEA) on 2 April.
According to sources close to El-Sisi's campaign, the estimated turnout in the elections, which were held Monday through Wednesday, is around 25 million out of 59 million eligible voters.
According to the same sources, El-Sisi received 92 percent of the vote, his sole opponent Moussa Mostafa Moussa received 3 percent, while around 5 percent of voters cast a blank ballot.
The estimates reported by state TV are based on current vote counts in 24 of Egypt's 27 governorates.
State TV also projected that more than 21 million voters cast their ballot for El-Sisi, while his opponent Moussa, who is the head of the Ghad Party, is estimated to have received 686,000 votes.
Fifty-four local and nine international NGOs were authorised by the NEA to monitor the elections.
The voting was supervised by 18,000 judges at 13,706 polling stations across the country.
International organisations observing the elections said during the poll that the process was going smoothly.
The NEA said no significant violations were reported.
Some observers have attributed the relatively high number of spoiled votes to pressure put on voters to participate in the election.
On the last day of the vote, the NEA said that it would be imposing a fine of EGP 500 ($28) on Egyptians who do not vote.
"The figure of invalid votes suggests that last-minute mobilisation for voting and the threats of imposing the [legal] penalty on those who abstain created a pattern of voting that was not intended," says electoral systems researcher and writer Akram El-Alfy.
However, most indicators show that the overwhelming majority of the voters chose to re-elect El-Sisi because of strong desires for security and stability despite economic hardships or other concerns.
The vast majority of the more than 50 people who spoke to the Al-Ahram Weekly in the days leading up to the 2018 presidential elections – and those encountered in polling stations in Heliopolis, Maadi, Mohandessin, Sayeda Zeinab, Garden City and Zamalek – said the main reason they supported El-Sisi in 2014, and are doing so again, was because they were determined never to see a repeat of the one-year rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In the Cairo neighbourhood of Sayeda Zeinab, Fatma, a civil servant in her early 40s, told Al-Ahram Weekly “I want El-Sisi to know that we went out to vote for him even though we know he will win. He deserves our support.”
Fatma stressed she wanted “to thank El-Sisi for many things, but most of all for stability.”
“We had enough of demonstrations and protests and uncertainty. We are back to stability and this is a blessing.”
Fatma explained that although she finds it “harder and harder to make ends meet” amid current economic austerity measures, she was "cutting down on basics, but all for the sake of stability."
"My son is unfortunately opposed to El-Sisi, but he is only 19 years old. I keep teasing him and his sister,” she added before she stepped into the polling station to cast a ballot for El-Sisi.
In Alexandria, Egypt's second-largest city, El-Sisi received around 88 percent of the vote, with a turnout of about 39 percent, Egypt's state news agency MENA said. His rival Moussa gained less than 3 percent of the vote in the governorate.
In the Nile Delta governorate of Daqahliya, one of the country's most populated governorates, El-Sisi received 85 percent of the vote and Moussa gained just 2 percent, with almost 47 percent of eligible voters casting their ballots, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
Also in the Nile Delta governorate of Gharbiya, El-Sisi obtained 90 percent of the vote, with a turnout of more than 50 percent.
In Beheira, El-Sisi garnered 87.5 percent of the vote, while Moussa obtained 2.5 percent.
In Minya, Upper Egypt’s largest governorate in terms of voter concentration, El-Sisi secured 96 percent of the vote. Some 1.2 million voted in the governorate out of 3.2 million eligible voters.
In Sohag, the second largest governorate in Upper Egypt with 2.8 million eligible voters, the turnout reached 33.49 percent, with 95.7 percent voting for El-Sisi.
Late on Wednesday night after the polls closed at 10pm, El-Sisi expressed pride in Egyptians who headed to the polls.
"The voice of the Egyptian masses will undoubtedly express the will of our nation," he wrote on Twitter.
"The scenes of Egyptians at polling stations will remain my source of pride and honour and a compelling proof of the greatness of our nation, whose most precious sons have offered [their] blood so that we can move together towards the future," the president added.
Hours before polls closed on Wednesday, the country's electoral authority extended the vote by one hour from 9pm to 10pm due to a high turnout and poor weather conditions.
Candidate Moussa hailed the participation of the Egyptian people in the elections, stressing that the aim of his candidacy was to achieve the safety and stability of Egypt regardless of the result.
“The Egyptian people are the real winners in the elections. We are all happy to serve our national duty and are pleased with the outcome, whatever it may be," Moussa said in a telephone interview with CBC Extra News channel on Thursday.
Moussa added that the experience he has gained would enable him to run in the upcoming elections in 2022.
In the 2014 presidential elections, where El-Sisi beat leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi with around 97 percent of the vote, 24.5 million (47 percent) out of 54 million eligible voters took part. More than 1 million cast blank ballots.