Ballots beyond borders

Doaa El-Bey , Wednesday 29 Nov 2023

Voting abroad in Egypt’s 2024 presidential election will start on Friday.

Ballots beyond borders


Egyptian expatriates or those who are outside the country between 1-3 December will be able to take part in the presidential election by casting their ballots in the nearest embassy or consulate in 121 countries, said the National Election Authority (NEA).

Egyptian citizens living abroad, whether temporarily or permanently, who are registered on voter lists and have a national ID card, even if it has expired, have the right to cast a vote at the nearest Egyptian embassy or consulate. Expats who never obtained a national ID can vote using their passports.

Voting abroad begins on Friday and will take place over three days, from 9am to 9pm local time of each country. Voters living in Egypt will vote between 10-12 December. Results will be announced on 18 December.

The NEA publishes the addresses of polling stations abroad on its website.

Ahmed, who has just got a job in the UK, told Al-Ahram Weekly he lives near London so it will be an easy commute to reach the embassy and vote on Saturday. It is not so easy for Basel Mohamed, an Egyptian engineer working for a computer company in the US. He lives far from the embassy in Washington and the four consulates where he can cast his vote in the States. “Postal voting, which used to be allowed, could have solved this problem,” he said.

Postal voting was allowed in the post-25 January Revolution parliamentary elections and the 2012 presidential poll. In the 2014 and 2018 presidential elections voters had to cast their ballot in person.

Cancelling postal votes was attributed to a desire to ensure Egyptians living inside and outside the country enjoy the same rights. Voters in Egypt must cast their ballots in person after presenting a valid national ID card.

Dina, a teacher who has been working in Kuwait for more than 15 years, is glad that voting with an expired ID is accepted as she hasn’t visited Egypt to renew her ID since it expired a year ago.

On Monday, Soha Guindi, Minister for Emigration and Expatriate Affairs, began a tour of European countries to inform expatriates of their voting rights. She has already toured Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the same mission.

The greatest number of Egyptian expats lives in Saudi Arabia, followed by Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar.

The voting process for the estimated 10 million expats will be closely monitored from operation rooms at the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Emigration and the NEA.

Four candidates are running in Egypt’s 2024 presidential elections: incumbent President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, who is running for a third term; Farid Zahran of the Social Democratic Party; Abdel-Sanad Yamama, Wafd Party candidate, and Hazem Omar, candidate of the People’s Republican Party.

The expatriate is scheduled earlier than the domestic vote to allow the NEA to exclude the names of those who have already cast their ballots abroad from the voters’ lists at home and to give sufficient time for foreign missions to count the votes and forward the results to the NEA.

In April 2011, the cabinet announced that Egyptians living overseas should be allowed to vote in presidential elections and referendums at embassies and consulates abroad as part of amendments to the law on political participation.

In October the same year, an administrative court ruled that Egyptians living abroad have the right to vote in parliamentary polls.

A month later, the then-ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) passed a law regulating expatriate voting in parliamentary and presidential elections and in referendums, allowing expatriates to vote at embassies and consulates in the countries in which they live.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 30 November, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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