According to a report issued Wednesday by the Egyptian Coalition for Election Observation, the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) did not posses the required tools to effectively supervise Egypt’s first post-Mubarak elections. “The members of the SEC were only assigned their tasks for the duration of the elections and the security organization was affiliated to the interior ministry and the armed forces,” said Ahmed Abdel Hafez, vice head of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), member of the coalition.
Abdel Hafez added that the SEC only issued the policies that regulate the electoral process but could not practically apply the law or penalize those who committed violations during the electoral process. According to Ghada Shahbandar, board member of the EOHR, the SEC itself had committed the highest rate of violations. “The SEC was not ready to oversee the elections and we called upon it more than once to postpone the polls in light of clashes in Tahrir Square between protesters and security forces,” she said.
Shahbandar pointed out that although the SEC and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces insisted on holding the elections on time, head of the SEC, Councilor Abdel Moez Ibrahim, blamed the interior ministry for not performing its assigned tasks efficiently.
“At the beginning of the first round, Ibrahim said that the interior ministry is to be blamed for not delivering the ballots or the boxes to the polling stations on time,” she said.
In the press conference held to announce the results of the elections’ monitoring by the coalition, the activist criticized SEC’s performance in delaying the opening of a number of polling stations to voters, doubling the voting process over two days instead of one without prior preparation and that the stations where the votes were counted were not suitable.
“We tracked serious violations during the vote-counting process. Some judges had to use lighters to see the ballots they were counting,” Shahbandar said.
Although holding the vote over two days was a positive step, she said, it was decided abruptly.
“At first, Ibrahim said that if anyone is skeptical about securing of ballot boxes overnight, they can guard them themselves. Later the same day, he said judges will go home and the army and police forces will secure the boxes,” she said.