Egyptian men cast their votes at a polling station during the run-off in the second phase of Egypt's parliamentary elections in Heliopolis, Cairo, on December 2, 2015 (Photo: Bassam Alzogby)
The ballot counting process started on Wednesday evening following the end of the runoffs in the second stage of Egypt's parliamentary elections.
Wednesday, which saw public sector employees given a half day off to allow time for voting, marked the last day of voting in the elections to form a parliament, the third and final step in the democratic roadmap set by the government in 2013. The first two steps involved the writing of a constitution and the election of a president – both completed in 2014.
The 13 governorates which voted to choose 213 independents in the second stage are Cairo, Qalyoubia, Daqahliya, Menoufiya, Sharqiya, Gharbiya, Kafr El-Sheikh, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.
The race took place in 99 constituencies across Egypt between 427 candidates.
The first phase of the elections, held in 14 provinces on 18 and 19 October, witnessed a turnout of 26.5 percent. A total of 55.6 million Egyptians are eligible to cast ballots in the parliamentary polls; 27.4 million were eligible to vote during the first stage, and 28.2 million in the second.
The last parliamentary elections held in Egypt came months after the toppling of president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, yielding a turnout of 62 percent in the first round.
Premier Sherif Ismail has been in direct contact with the cabinet's operation room tasked with following the elections, and says he was assured the process was "going well."
The High Electoral Committee (HEC) plans to announce the results of the polling after the counting of ballots is completed.
Media reports showed the turnout has increased in some polling stations in various governorates in the evening hours, compared to morning voting.
Reports from Damietta governorate show that some polling stations have witnessed a relatively higher turnout than early hours of voting.
No violence has been reported in any governorate during the two days of the second stage runoff.
Security forces intensified their presence during the last hours of voting, especially in relatively-tensed governorates were some violence was expected, such as Suez, Ismailia and North Sinai.
Governor of North Sinai Abdel-Fattah Harhour told Al-Ahram Arabic news website that the voting process during the first and the second day of the runoffs was smooth.
Harhour added that the turnout in North Sinai on Wednesday, until 6pm local time, was 10 percent. The first day witnessed a 19 percent turnout in the governorate.
Egyptians abroad cast their ballots in the runoff round on Monday and Tuesday, according to a statement by the High Elections Committee on Tuesday evening. No fewer than 17,000 voters took part.
El-Sisi cast his ballot in Heliopolis on the second day of voting after returning from attending the Paris Climate Conference.
Meanwhile, several Egyptian NGOs have reported minor electoral violations during the final runoff round of the elections.
The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights Observers reported several incidents of vote-buying, electoral propaganda and directing voters in Sharqiya, Cairo, Daqahliya, Damietta, Gharbiya and Kafr El-Sheikh governorates during the runoff vote.
A total of 55,606,578 Egyptians were eligible to vote in the elections. 27,402,353 were eligible to vote during the first stage, while 28,204,225 were eligible in the second.
A total of 282 parliamentary seats were up for competition in the second stage, with 222 seats for independent candidates and 60 seats allocated to party-based lists.
Preliminary results have revealed a landslide win for the For the Love of Egypt list in all 60 list-based seats of the second stage. For The Love of Egypt also swept all 60 list-based seats in the October stage.
The new parliament is set to convene before the end of 2015.