Islamists and liberals accused election officials Thursday of filling out ballot forms for elderly or confused voters at some polling stations during the second round of parliamentary elections. If confirmed as a pattern, the reports could chip away at the credibility of what has so far been the freest and fairest vote in Egypt’s modern history.
Under Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year regime, elections were systemically rigged and the corruption was a major impetus behind the popular uprising that ousted the authoritarian leader in February. But as the polls closed, it was still unclear how widespread the problems were.
The head of the election commission, Abdel-Moez Ibrahim, described the allegations of wrongdoing as “a strong wave of rumors which aimed at driving wedge between the judges and the people.” He said he investigated some incidents and found out that judges overseeing the voting were helping disabled, illiterate voters. But because of the accusations, judges now tell voters asking for help that this is not their role.
“If people lose confidence in their judges, this will lead to a state collapse,” he said. It was difficult to say how widespread any abuses or irregularities were, but more allegations surfaced in this round than in the previous one in November as competition heats up.