Third day of Egyptian expat voting kicks off

Ahram Online, Saturday 17 May 2014

Numbers of expat voters in Egypt's presidential elections have reportedly much higher than in January's constitutional referendum

Election workers look at identifications during the first round of Egyptian elections for expatriates at a polling station, in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, May 15, 2014. (AP Photo)

The third day of overseas voting in Egypt’s presidential elections kicked off on Saturday with some logistical problems due to the unexpectedly high voter turnout.

The voting process, which started on Thursday at Egyptian embassies and consulates around the world, saw the high numbers of voters queuing to cast their vote. 

The large turnout has caused a number of logistical difficulties.

In Kuwait, long queues blocked surrounding streets and caused severe pressure on the mobile tower serving the embassy.

Egypt’s Presidential Election Commission (PEC) released a statement saying the pressure on the signal affected the digital polling stations and asking voters to limit their use of cell phone while queuing.

In Saudi Arabia, where over 45 percent of the total number of expats who are eligible to vote reside, the large numbers of voters on Friday forced the Egyptian embassy in Jeddah to remain open after the 9pm poll closing time.

The long lines in the Jeddah embassy, as long as 300 metres, led to the embassy adding an additional two polling stations, bringing the total number of polling stations to 15.

The commission also announced on Friday evening that it would send three digital voting machines to Qatar in order to deal with large volumes of voters in the Gulf nation.

The number of votes cast by expats cast has already exceeded the total number of expat votes cast during in January’s constitution referendum, according to the commission.

By midday Saturday, 170,000 voters have cast votes worldwide, according to Egypt’s foreign affairs ministry, while a total of 107,041 expats voted in the January referendum, around 15 percent of eligible expat voters.

Overseas polling stations will close on Sunday 18 May. Egyptians back home will go to the polls on 26-27 May.

A total of 144 embassies and consulates are serving as polling stations in 124 different countries.

No facilities are available in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic and Somalia for security reasons. Egyptians who reside in these countries must travel to nearby countries where other polling stations may receive them.

Voters are choosing between just two candidates: former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the favourite, and Nasserist politician Hamdeen Sabahi.

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