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Voting law changed

Voters in Egypt’s referendums must vote where they are registered, regardless of where they work or reside on day of vote

In March 2011 the constitutional amendment was approved by a large majority of votes cast in a national referendum. (DNE/ FILE PHOTO/ Hassan Ibrahim)
During the 15 December constitutional referendum voters must vote in the towns where they are registered. (DNE/ FILE PHOTO/ Hassan Ibrahim)

President Mohamed Morsy has tweaked the law regarding referendum elections to restrict voters to only voting where they are registered.

The change comes a mere four days before one of the most hotly debated referendums in Egypt’s history is held.

The Supreme Commission for Elections admitted that the ability to vote anywhere in the country may benefit the voter, but they also said that this freedom threatens to “raise doubts and appeals in the referendum process.”

The legal change is being framed as a way “to ensure the integrity and transparency of the vote.”

Haggag Nael, the director of the Arab Programme for Human Rights Activists, said Morsy’s move will target certain segments of the population that would have voted against the constitution.

“For example, we have 800,000 people who work in the touristic sector, in Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada. They cannot [leave work] to vote for the constitution. They would vote no… [because] they don’t want to close everything [in the tourism industry]. The attitude from the Muslim Brotherhood toward tourism is very bad; they don’t want tourism.”

In the Law on the Exercising of Political Rights, under chapter three, which outlines referendum and election processes, the paragraph used to read, “in cases of referendums, voters who happen to be in a city or a village other than that at which they are registered, shall be allowed to vote in the city or village in which they exist, provided that they present to the polling station committee their voting cards.”

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