The head of Egypt’s election commission said turnout was “massive and unexpected” for the first elections since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, with millions participating peacefully in a spirit of hopefulness that surprised many after new protests broke out in the days leading up to the vote.
Long lines formed again today at polling centers around the capital Cairo and other cities on the second and final day of the first round of parliamentary elections. The historic election — which promises to be the country’s fairest and cleanest in living memory — will indicate whether one of America’s most important Middle East allies will turn down a more Islamic path with powerful religious parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood expected to dominate.
“I am voting for this country’s sake. We want a new beginning,” said Zeinab Saad, 50, who brought her young daughter to a polling station in Cairo. “It’s a great thing to feel like your vote matters.” The head of the High Election Commission, Abdel-Mooaez Ibrahim, said late Monday night that the turnout on the first day was surprisingly strong. He did not give any figures.
There were numerous reports of election violations by party activists, most over campaigning close to polling sites while voting was under way. “It is a crime punishable by law,” Ibrahim said of such violations. He also said some polling centers witnessed delays and three were closed following scuffles. He said one polling center was closed after the commission found a policeman forging ballots for a candidate in the southern city of Luxor.