The Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) held a press conference Sunday afternoon to announce updates on the second phase of the parliamentary elections in Egypt and abroad.
The second phase started for Egyptians abroad Saturday and continued Sunday. Local voters started Sunday and will continue Monday. Elections are taking place in 13 governorates, which are Cairo, Daqahleya, Gharbeya, Qaliubiya, Menufiya, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Ismailia, Suez, Sharqeya, Port Said, North Sinai, South Sinai, and Damietta.
SEC spokesperson Omar Marwan confirmed earlier observatory reports on the delay of several polling stations when opening according to scheduled voting hours from 9am to 9pm.
“We have noticed delays in 93 polling stations this morning,” Marwan said, and announced the arrest of three people who were caught collecting voters’ IDs in exchange for money to buy their votes.
“They were released on bail of EGP 1,000,” he said.
A total of 141 complaints were received in the first half of the day.
“We are doing our best to fight any violations. We have even assigned extra judges in a few areas who are in charge of inspecting the surroundings of polling stations to note any violations,” Marwan said.
Usually, judges are only responsible for what happens inside polling stations and therefore unavailable outside since they cannot control illegal electoral campaigns or people directing voters.
The SEC faced criticism by political parties and observatory missions for lack of action against violations during the first electoral phase, to which Marwan had previously responded by explaining the SEC’s limited authorisation.
However, the SEC appears to have increased efforts to contain violations in the current phase. Marwan admitted that there were issues in the voters’ database, which resulted in misinforming some citizens who inquired about their polling stations.
A citizen named Ashraf Mohamed filed a complaint to the SEC after sending an SMS to 5151, the number the commission designated for voters’ inquiries. According to a report by local NGO Maat, observing elections, Mohamed was surprised to find out he was not registered “due to the death of this citizen”.
Finally, when asked about the situation in North Sinai, Marwan said the loosened curfew hours, from 7pm to 11pm, were set to facilitate the voting process.
“But let me reassure you that polling stations there saw a large turnout in Ber El-Abd, Sheikh Zuwaid, and one area in Al-Arish city, to the extent that there were long queues,” Marwan said.