CAIRO: The Supreme Judicial Commission overseeing voting on a public referendum on constitutional amendments announced that polling time will be extended for one hour till 9 pm and demanded that more judges stay on alert as voters turned out in huge numbers at polling stations all over Egypt.
Hundreds of thousands queued in front of polling stations since the early hours of the morning on Saturday to cast their votes on proposed constitutional amendments.
Additional judges were sent to Upper Egypt in military airplanes to respond to high voter turnout.
The Commission also announced that unstamped ballots are authorized as long as a judge is present at the polling station.
Numerous reports have indicated that the voting process was smooth in polling stations in Cairo under complete judicial supervision.
Volunteers were seen assisting police and army officers in guiding voters into polling stations.
However banners calling on voters to refuse the amendments, although banned, were seen outside the Talaat Harb polling station, while others encouraging citizens to say yes were also seen in the Haram area.
Voters were split between accepting or refusing the proposed amendments to articles of Egypt’s constitution, which has been in place since 1971.
“I will vote no because by accepting these amendments, we will have to undergo eight elections which will be very costly to our already struggling economy,” said Mohamed Badawy, referring to upper and lower house of parliament and presidential elections which are likely to be repeated when a new constitution is drafted according to stipulation in the proposed amendments.
“If we carry legislative elections [in six months], the result will be an unrepresentative parliament,” added Badawy who says he participated in all referenda in Egypt since 1998 and voted no to all of them.
Ahmed Anwar voted yes saying that this will restore stability to the country.
“The anticipated scenario if we accept the constitutional amendments ensures that stability will be restored once more,” Anwar said.
Salah Ali, head of the Communist Party voted no at one of Abdeen’s polling stations and hailed the high turnout and the transparency of the voting process.
“We shall respect the results in all cases but accepting the amendments will lead to countless political confrontations in the legislative elections,” Ali said.
Voters hailed the high turnout and said that whatever the results will be, they shall be accepted.
The elderly were given priority in casting their votes while voters using a photocopy of their ID or passports were denied voting.
Long lines were seen in the upscale areas of Zamalek and Maadi. One citizen reported that he and three others were refused exit from one polling station when it ran out of phosphoric ink. They were only released after the ink was brought in and they doused their finger in it to avoid multiple votes.
Amr Moussa, Secretary General of the Arab League and presidential hopeful, casts his vote in Kasr El Dobbara, Downtown Cairo. (Daily News Egypt Photo / Hassan Ibrahim)
Egypt’s Pope Shenouda casts his vote in Shubra, Cairo. (Daily News Egypt Photo / Hassan Ibrahim)