Egyptian parliamentary staff to test new electronic voting system
Gamal Essam El-Din, , Saturday 7 Nov 2015
Ahead of the opening session at the end of next month, Egypt's lower house of parliament has had an electronic voting system installed

Khaled El-Sadr, the secretary-general of the House of Representatives – Egypt's lower house of parliament – told reporters on Saturday that parliamentary staff will test a newly-installed electronic voting system on Sunday.

"In preparation for the new parliament, the house's secretariat-general in coordination with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology have finished installing an electronic voting system," said El-Sadr, adding that "this system will be tested for the first time on Sunday."

El-Sadr said the new electronic voting system is necessary for a democratic parliament.

"It helps that the voting process does not take much time, not to mention that the voting itself will be conducted in an accurate and transparent way," El-Sadr added.

Prior Egyptian parliaments were required to show their approval or rejection of laws and motions by raising their hands or standing up. The same applied to those who abstain from voting.

The elections for Egypt's new parliament have been underway since October; the final results are expected in early December.

El-Sadr indicated that the new electronic voting system will not be used during the new parliament's opening session, expected at the end of December or early January.

"This procedural inaugural session will be devoted to the election of a new parliamentary speaker and two deputies," said El-Sadr, indicating that "transparent glass boxes will be used to collect votes in favour of each candidate running for any of the three posts.”

Minister of Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Magdi El-Agati, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Yasser El-Qadi and representatives from a private IT company which took charge of installing the electronic voting system will be available during the test, El-Sadr said.

The secretariat-general also announced that out of 273 candidates who won seats in the first stage of the parliamentary elections, held between 17 and 28 October, as many as 251 have obtained their new parliamentary membership cards.

"This number represents the total in the first four days of membership registration – or between 3 and 7 November," said a parliamentary statement. "Out of 251, as many as 103 candidates said they were former MPs: 57 as deputies in the former People's Assembly and 46 as members of the now-defunct upper house or Shura Council," the statement said.

The statement also indicated out of 251, 54 have registered as party list candidates while 197 were candidates who competed for independent seats.

"Out of the 197 independents, 127 said they are affiliated with political parties while 124 said they do not have definite political affiliations," the statement said.

The statement also disclosed that the Free Egyptians Party, founded by business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, came first in terms of successful candidates obtaining membership cards.

"As many as 41 Free Egyptians Party candidates have received their membership cards, followed by the Future of Homeland party (24 MPs), Wafd (16 MPs), the People's Republican Party (9 MPs), the Salafist Nour party (8 MPs), the Nation's Guardians Party (7 MPs), the Conference Party (6 MPs), the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (3 MPs), the Democratic Peace Party (two MPs), the Egyptian National Movement Party (two MPs), the Modern Egypt Party (two MPs), the Conservatives Party (one MP), the Freedom Party (one MP), the Free Egyptian Edifice Party (one MP), the Egyptian Arab Nasserist Party (one MP), and Misr Baladi party (one MP).

The statement also indicated that 30 out of 32 female MPs have obtained membership cards.

"The list also includes seven young MPs, four disabled MPs, 76 who were members of elected city councils, and two living outside Egypt," said the statement.