Day 1 of 2024 Presidential Elections: High turnout and smooth voting

Zeinab El-Gundy , Monday 11 Dec 2023

Egypt’s National Elections Authority (NEA) announced on Sunday that the subcommittees of the polling stations will continue to work till the “last voter can vote” due to the high turnout of voters on the first day of the 2024 Egyptian Presidential elections.

Egyptians arrive at a polling station to cast their ballots in the presidential election in Cairo at the Technical Institute in Boulaq district on December 10, 2023. AFP


The first day of the 2024 Egyptian Presidential elections should have initially concluded at 9 PM nationwide.

Due to the high turnout on the first day, confirmed by the NEA and independent observers from NGOs and other organizations, the operation time of the polling stations was extended until the "last voter standing can vote," according to the NEA.

The authority added that polling stations closed after the voting process ran smoothly despite a few violations reported to the NEA by observers and candidates’ campaigns.

In addition, the NEA announced that additional judges and members of judicial bodies were assigned to various subcommittees to expedite proceedings and alleviate crowding due to the high turnout.

The authority also announced the passing away of Aziza Tawfik Mahmoud Ali Ragab, aged 63, while casting her vote at one of the polling stations in Nasr City, Cairo. Furthermore, the late Saber Tawfik Saber Youssef, aged 55, died peacefully while voting at a polling station in Nabrouh City, Dakahlia Governorate.

The NEA had previously declared that 15,000 judges nationwide supervise the electoral process and that 67 million eligible voters can head to 11,631 sub-committees across 9,376 polling stations from 9 AM to 9 PM from Sunday to Tuesday.

In a press conference on Sunday morning, Ahmed Bendari, the Executive Director of the (NEA), stressed that the voting process is progressing smoothly at all polling stations and subcommittees. He mentioned a brief delay in a Giza committee for a few minutes, following which operations promptly resumed.

Bendari also revealed that 5 million citizens have inquired about their polling stations in the presidential elections on the website of the National Authority, 500,000 via text messages sent to 506207, and another 500,000 through email messages.

The State Information Service (SIS) released its mid-first day report from its elections-operation room detailing how the international media actively covers the Egyptian presidential elections, with 528 journalists from 33 countries representing 110 media entities, of whom 462 were resident correspondents, and 102 were visitors.

The SIS also organized a trip to facilitate coverage for 24 foreign correspondents in North Sinai, where they observed the voting in several committees and assessed the current situation at the Rafah border crossing.

Moreover, the service reported that its elections operations room received only four observations from foreign correspondents regarding photography inside polling stations and that all reported issues were promptly addressed due to the effective management of the electoral process.

Furthermore, the SIS said that global media coverage had been generally positive and that major international media outlets published reports focusing on the commencement of the voting and provided information on the candidates and the competitive landscape.

“The coverage maintained objectivity and described the events inside and around the polling stations,”  the SIS said, adding that the reports on the electoral atmosphere, procedures, integrity, or any undue interference by state authorities have been generally positive. 

Meanwhile, the Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR) decided to interrogate Saheeh Masr news website staff for reportedly publishing false news about the Presidential elections. 

The admins of the fact-finding news website may be referred to the prosecutor general if they are proven guilty of spreading false information about the elections.

The candidates’ campaigns

The presidential candidates, including the frontrunner and incumbent president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, cast their votes early Sunday at their respective polling stations. El-Sisi, seeking reelection for the third time under the star symbol, faces competition from three other candidates in this election.

Among the contenders is Farid Zahran, the leader of the leftist opposition Social Democratic Party, with the sun as his electoral symbol; Abdel-Sanad Yamama, who represents the Wafd party and whose electoral symbol is the palm tree; and Hazem Omar, the candidate from the People's Republican Party who uses the ladder as his electoral symbol.

In its first report on the voting process, Farid Zahran's campaign, with over 6,000 delegates observing the first day of elections nationwide, praised the media for its high standards of neutrality and security forces for their impartiality.

Nevertheless, the campaign documented violations by the executive authority against citizens supporting Zahran in some governorates, stressing that such violations compromise equality.  

The campaign said it submitted the documented violations to the NEA and urged Egyptian citizens to continue voting to bring about a peaceful power transition and democratic change.

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) also reported its remarks on the first day of elections through 188 observers across all governorates.

Despite noting 26 violations inside and outside several polling stations in Cairo, Giza, Beni Suef, Luxor, Aswan, and Kafr El-Sheikh -- including delayed polling station openings, voter congestion, and electioneering -- the overall electoral process proceeded smoothly, the EOHR said.

The organization said it has submitted detailed reports to the NEA urging necessary measures to address these violations and ensure the continued integrity and transparency of the electoral process in the remaining days.

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