Record number of Egyptians vote in parliamentary election


Egyptian soldiers carry a ballot box at the end of the first day of voting in Cairo's Shubra neighbourhood on November 28, 2011 before a second round of voting the following day.



CAIRO, Egypt — Egyptian voters came out in record numbers Monday to cast ballots in the country’s parliamentary election, the first vote since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak earlier this year.

Enthusiastic Egyptians waited patiently in hours-long lines at polling stations for the opportunity to vote in the first free-and-fair, multi-party election in more than three decades.

“We’ve never had any choices before in our elections,” said Shahnas Abdel Rassoul, 41, a first-time voter from Cairo’s Zamalek district. “We may not win, but at least we’ll have the opportunity to have our voices heard.”

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Despite assurances from Egypt's ruling military that the first post-Mubarak polls would be completely "free and fair," there were several hundred voting violations reported to the country's supreme elections council.

Polls opened across the nation at 8 a.m., but many voters were forced to wait in long lines for up to seven hours. Administrators arrived late to polls. There were multiple adminstrative incidents, such as ballots not showing up on time or missing stamps at booths. And in a few cases, the phosphorescent ink to indicate that a voter has already cast a ballot was also late.

Here's a list of a few reported incidents from Monday:

  • Many parties campaigned outside the doors of polling stations — despite a ban on any campaign activities within 48 hours of polls opening
  • Several journalists said they were turned away from polling stations by security forces, despite having the proper election credentials
  • Several representatives from Egypt's judicial branch, which administered the vote, showed up late and delayed the polls
  • One police officer was suspended for failing to deliver the ballots to a Cairo polling station, forcing the polls to close for 10 hours on Monday
  • At least one candidate in northern Cairo reportedly got into a screaming match over alleged election violations 

Still, the election appeared to be void of the type of mass vote-rigging and intimidation that existed in the 2010 parliamentary election, when Mubarak’s party won by landslide margins. Then, it was common to hear gunfire on the streets of downtown Cairo.  

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But there were very few security incidents reported on Monday.

And most Egyptians said they were optimistic about the overall transparency of the election.  

"Things have run slow all day, but that is to be expected. It is our first real election in years," said Ayman Taha, a candidate in downtown Cairo. "I'm just very excited to be running on this historic day."

The second and final round of the first election phase takes place on Tuesday. GlobalPost will continue to update this blog with the latest from Egypt's 2011 parliamentary elections.