Breaches and irregularities in the election process prevailed on the two days of voting, creating fears and raising doubts on the screening process. In Eastern Cairo, participants and committee delegates were alarmed that not all voting polls had judicial supervision, and that the police and the army dealt with manipulations leniently. Thus, many delegates spent the night in front of poll stations in fear of any forging of ballots. EgyptVotes investigated the elections process and procedures taken by candidates to protect ballot boxes, hours before the results of the individual seats were announced.
Lack of trust in the police and the absence of judicial supervision
Eastern Cairo division saw a huge brawl take place between a supervising judge and the Deputy of Ain Shams police station. In effect, junior officers refused to deliver the ballot papers to the election committee in solidarity with their commanding officer, resulting in a voting delay until six in the evening on the first day of voting.
"We went down to the elections although we doubt the integrity of the police as we know their crooked ways," Sherine Abd el-Malek, a student at the Faculty of Arts, said, "I believe there's a deal between them [the police] and the Islamists to manipulate votes at night, particularly since candidate reps were prevented from spending the night at the screening location, confirming the lack of trust on both sides."
Doubts regarding the integrity of the voting process were also felt by Eyab Abdallah, an employee at the Nile Soap Company. Abdallah, who voted at the Futures Elementary School in Zeitoun, said, "The Supreme Commission for Elections has announced, over and over again, that ballot boxes will be protected by judges, the police and the army. However, the absence of dozens of judges from voting committees and their marginal presence in many of the ballot stations posed a significant predicament. Two schools, 'Om el-Mo'meneen' and 'National Elementary' in Ain Shams area, were also closed down due to the absence of judges, confirming the fact that ballot boxes were in the sole possession of the army and police, giving them the power to forge the elections to benefit a particular political party or person."
Salafists take refuge in the Quran, while judges do so in the army
Counselor Yousry Abd el-Karim, a member of the Supreme Committee for Elections, finds that fears of electoral fraud and manipulation of ballot boxes are unfounded, especially as the army announced they would secure the ballots. Major General Hamdy Badin released statements vowing to do so until the end of the first phase of the elections after announcing the results, while allowing candidate reps to spend the night in front of locations where ballot boxes are stored. He stressed that Egyptian citizens must have faith in the integrity of the Supreme Committee for Elections and the Armed Forces.
Delegates from Islamist groups did share this sense of trust, said Mohamed Abdel Rahim, a representative for Khaled el-Zakla, a candidate of Nour Party. "The ballot boxes were in the protection of the armed forces personnel, candidate delegates, and watch-dogs from anti-fraud organisations," said Rahim. Yet he shied away from his previous statement about trust adding, "We also spent the night there discussing politics and reciting the Quran."
People's committees return
Nidal Mohamed, a supervising member in the 'Revolution Continues' coalition in Eastern Cairo, begs to differ, expressing the difficulty of watching over ballot boxes, especially in the case of newly formed parties and alliances. Some committees in Cairo did not allow delegates, supervisory alliances or candidates to spend the night watching over the ballot boxes, something that did not occur in other provinces, said Mohamed. Further, a lot of pressure was placed on delegates due to the vast number of committees requiring supervision and the geographical distance from one another. Thus several candidates were unable to find their delegates in committees. On the contrary, delegates from Islamist movements and parties were abundant in number, turning the ballot box committees into spots to recite the Quran, pray and call for religion. The other peculiar matter was the return of street patrols, some of whose members claimed to be independent of political affiliation, but were in fact delegates representing candidates from remnant parties running for individual seats.
"The real crisis is the lack of confidence in the army, police, security forces and absence of judges from varying poll stations, the matter that raises much suspicion," said Mohamed. However, he argued that the matter fell to the hands of citizens that did not belong to any political party, some of whom decided to spend the night by ballot boxes, considering it, as Mohamed said, "a matter of life or death."
*Uncredited pictures provided by the journalist.