Early this morning I went to cast my vote. The school I was assigned to is a 45 minute drive, when I got there it was already crowded, the queue for women reached the other side of the street, while that for men went round the corner and out of sight. This is one of the small schools used for voting, still the numbers were quite large compared to the last time I was there for the referendum on the Constitution.
There is a small shop selling falafel sandwiches right next to the school, an absolutely minute shop, that I would have never noticed had it not had music blaring, the song of Teslam el Ayady. Even in the school there was an elderly woman wearing the traditional black galabeya and the traditional headcover, not a veil, was holding in one hand the Egyptian flag and in the other a recorder blaring the same song wherever she went. A large number of the women were there with their children, which gave the process a very festive look.
The organization in general was not bad, except there was a man standing at the door of the room where I was to vote, trying to organize the entrance of the women as per the numbers assigned, then a little old lady took umbrage to that. From half way down the queue she gave him a piece of her mind, told him to stop interfering and let the queue flow as per first come first served. After that the process smoothed out and all went well. After voting – for Al Sisi of course – I had to dip my index finger in the red phosphoric indelible ink.
I was a bit disappointed in not seeing the Tok-Toks buzzing like flies. I started looking for them, then to my horror found them all parked very uniformly at a specific corner, and worse still, they were all painted the same, in black and yellow. Instead of looking like cheerful Easter eggs, as they did five months ago, they now look like nasty wasps. Very, very disappointing.
Later that morning I ran into a friend who had been to another voting station in a different area of town to cast her vote, and she told me that there too there were very long queues for both men and women. Strangely enough there was some junior official trying to organize the voting but managing to tangle things up and delaying the process. So there again the people took matters into their own hands and the process flowed after that.
Security was pretty good all over. Armed police and army personnel were very prominent. My voting station was too small to warrant any more security, but I am sure elsewhere there could have been more prominent security forces. The uniform characteristic around all voting stations is the cordoning off of the stations so no cars can approach, only people on foot. This is one of the security measures taken to protect the voting public from any potential terrorist bombings by the MB.
In a couple of governorates there was a token participation by the Salafi Nour Party. Till mid-day the number of voters in the Upper Egypt Governorates, where the weather is particularly hot, have been rather small, but it is expected that the numbers will increase after sundown, especially as voting stations are open till 9 pm.
On the whole, from what I personally saw, and what I heard from some friends who voted in different areas in town, that up till now they have seen most of the people voting for Al Sisi. But it is the final count that matters, and this will probably not be announced for at least another five days.
26 May 2014