Polling stations have finally closed their doors on the last day of Egypt’s 2014 presidential election. The cabinet will hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss the steps to follow the election. Several monitoring bodies will also be announcing their initial findings including the European Union’s commission, which said it will be holding a press conference on Thursday. Despite claims of low turnout, judicial sources told Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website that voter turnout by Wednesday – the third day of voting – had reached around 21 million – or about 40 percent of the country’s 54 million registered voters. The estimate puts the turnout higher than this January’s constitutional referendum, which saw around 20.6 million voters (38.6 percent), Judge Tarek Shebl, a member of the general secretariat of the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC), the judicial body supervising the poll, told Al-Ahram. Shebl believes turnout for the presidential election will surpass 40 percent.
Earlier in the day, state news agency MENA reported a moderate turnout of voters in some governorates, including the Sinai Peninsula, and lower numbers in other provinces including the canal city of Suez as well as Qena and Aswan in Upper Egypt.
In an unforeseen move, the PEC announced late on the second day of voting, Tuesday, that voting would be extended by one more day, much to the surprise of the Egyptian public and the dismay of the two candidates, Hamdeen Sabahi and Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, whose campaigns both filed objections against the PEC’s decision.
By the end of the first day of voting, Monday 26 May, and as a result of the unexpectedly low voter turnout observed across the country, Tuesday 27 May was declared a holiday to facilitate and encourage voting.