- Life Style
Voting begins today in the first stage of Egypt's first post-Hosni Mubarak parliamentary elections. This stage of voting, which will last two days, includes Cairo, Alexandria, Assiut, Port Said, Luxor, Kafr al-Sheikh, Fayoum, Damietta and Red Sea governorates, where voters will be electing 168 seats of Egypt's 498-seat lower house of parliament. There will be two more stages, with the final one on 3 January. More than 50 million Egyptians are eligible to vote. After a week of protests against military rule around the country, many were hoping for or expecting a delay in the elections. They have gone ahead as planned. Approximately 160 seats are up for election today out of Egypt's total parliament.
Polls opened at 8 am and will close at 7 pm. Al-Masry Al-Youm will be bringing you live updates throughout the day from its correspondents in Alexandria, Port Said, Assiut and throughout Cairo.
9:00 pm: Polling stations have closed. Judges are in the process of sealing ballot boxes with wax.
8:40 pm: State-run daily Al-Ahram reported that on Monday night, a court issued a verdict to halt elections in Assiut’s second district based on a complaint by candidate Sabry Ghanem, whose symbol was listed wrong in the ballot. A court ruling the night before ordered a halt to elections for the individual seat in the same district due to a complaint by a candidate who was listed as regular candidate instead of under the classification of workers/farmers (see 1:00 pm update below). Another verdict this morning ordered a halt to polling due to a complaint filed by candidate Ahmed El Touny, whose symbol was also listed wrong. Nevertheless, elections in that district proceeded on Monday despite the court orders, although the results of those elections may be invalidated.
7:50 pm: Monitors found stamped ballots outside the polling stations and are taking the issue to court, said Ahmed Gamal, member of the April 6 Youth Coalition and the Revolution Youth Coalition in Assiut Governorate, who is monitoring the election. He also says that there were groups of voters voting together inside the polling stations without going behind the curtain, and he says there was a lot of campaigning inside the polling stations.
Also, reflecting the unprecedented turnout, a judicial source on duty said that 70 percent of the registered voters in his area have already voted today.
7:30 pm: A polling station in the village of Manfalout, Assiut Governorate was closed for an hour due to complaints of Muslim Brotherhood members campaigning inside the station, an Assiut elections monitor has confirmed. The monitor asked not to be named as he/she is not authorized to speak with the media.
6:51 pm: The first day of the parliamentary elections went well, said Major General Hamdi Badin, commander of the military police and member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. He said there were no reported riots or acts of violence, and praised the armed forces for securing polling stations day and night.
“I have personally inspected several stations and things were going fine,” Badin said, adding that the only problem was in Ain Shams district, where the ballots did not arrive on time. “But the army interfered and delivered the ballots quickly.”
Commenting on reported gunfire in the village of Bendary, Assiut Governorate, Badin said such incidents are not unusual in the south. “But there were no riots,” he said.
He also said that campaigners are only allowed to distribute leaflets outside the polling stations. “Nobody can do so inside,” he said.
6:38 pm: Queues were long in Zeiton. Two hours ago, the polling station was almost empty, says the 40-year old Marianne. She managed to vote in 15 minutes. Now, many of the local residents came to cast their vote after a long day at work. Zakareya Ahmed, who moved to Shorouk City where he owns an import-export company, came with his wife to vote. He believed that the elections are fair and that they are a step in the right path, a sentiment which seems to be shared by most voters.
As elsewhere around the city, the sidewalk was covered with flyers of Freedom and Justice Party candidates as well as candidates running independently. Several voters said that these flyers have little impact because, they say, everyone already made up their mind before coming.
Khaled Mohamed, a house painter in his fifties, chose Freedom and Justice Party candidates due to the services the MB provided to residents over recent decades. Ahmed Soliman, a factory worker in his late twenties, would like to give religious parties a chance. “We [already] tried other ideologies…” he said.
6:20 pm: Queues have almost disappeared at Waily's polling stations. The atmosphere is there is pretty calm and organized. Stations are coated in posters on both the inside and outside. All candidates employ campaigners outside to distribute flyers. One campaigner passing by a station said candidate "Abir Raafat Meligy says hi."
5:34 pm: Hundreds of impatient voters tried to break into the polling station at Mostafa Kamel school in Mansiyet Nasser, Cairo, to cast their votes, after waiting more than three hours in line.
Security forces held citizens back using tasers before cordoning off the polling station.
5:30 pm: There are fights between supporters of partisan and independent candidates in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, and Port Said, said monitors from One World Foundation, an Egyptian human rights organization.
The foundation reported that Cairo's Helwan saw a brawl between some female voters at Atef al-Sadat School polling station.
In Port Said, supporters of the Salafi Nour Party and Jama’a al-Islamiya clashed with supporters of the liberal Free Egyptians Party in front of al-Taimoury school after Nour supporters circulated campaign leaflets. Both parties used bladed weapons and glass bottles, according to reports.
5:27 pm: A Muslim Brotherhood campaigner was removed from a polling station at Nasr City's Unified Experimental School after he was accused of distributing meals inside the polling station. The Brotherhood campaigner, however, said the meals were only for his friends and other party members.
5:20 pm: Outside a polling place at Garden City Language School in the Qasr al-Nil district, voters said the procedure is running smoothly.
“They give you the paper, they don’t help you, and you fill it out,” said first time voter Suhair Mahmoud, 42. “It’s all easy to understand.”
Um Mohamed, 75, stood in front of the school waiting for her husband, who was voting at another station.
“I voted today so that Egypt can be beautiful, forever beautiful, praise God,” she said.
5:00 pm: In an update to the 4:37 pm entry below, the judge reportedly closed the Daher polling station after discovering that several ballot papers were unstamped. Eyewitnesses told Al-Masry Al-Youm that at 9 am that the judge stopped the the vote and left an hour later as no stamped papers had arrived. Voters filed a report against the judge at the Daher police station.
However, other eyewitnesses said the judge supervising left after an argument with a women who found out her balloting paper was unstamped.
Voters said a judge supervising another polling station started supervising their station at 12:30 pm, but stopped after an hour and half to return to his original station.
Hundreds of women then gathered before the constituency calling for their votes, fearing they would be fined.
4:50 pm: Google's Egypt website dedicates the day's symbol to the elections. The initial G depicts a person holding a newspaper and walking stick, the first 'O' is a flag, the second a ballot paper, 'G' and 'I' are people filling in ballot papers, and the final 'E' is a person with a thumb raised having put a ballot in the ballot box.
4:37 pm: At the polling station at College de la Salle in Daher, the judge left and two rooms were closed after an argument between the judge and voters. David William, observing for the Ibn Khaldoun Center, said that the Free Egyptians Party has filed charges against the judge. Voter Azza Fathy Abdel Hakim said she had waited from 9 am until 12 noon and been unable to vote, but said she would try again tomorrow.
4:35 pm: In the Waily district at polling station number 591, candidate Hussein Abo Gad is making his female supporters approach men in polling queues. Al-Masry Al-Youm saw a girl approach a queuing man and tell him "I will do whatever you want if you vote for Abo Gad."
4:30 pm: State TV reports that voting has been extended until 9 pm.
4:27 pm: In the cities and villages of the Luxor Governorate, a high level of women's participation was witnessed. More than 500 women were present in the Salah Eddin al-Ayyouby polling station, allocated for women, less than one hour after the balloting process had started. Clashes took place there between female voters, military police and security forces, which led to the closure of the polling station as all its corridors were full of voters.
4:20 pm: In Badary, the third district of Assiut, turnout is very low. There are only about 20 people in each polling station, but residents say many people voted earlier in the day. The area is known for traibalism and violent clashes between families. After one candidate was disqualified, members of his family blocked the roads in a nearby village, but were dispersed this morning. Now everything is calm.
4:15 pm: At the polling station of Refaa Tahtawy in Mattareya, ballots have just arrived after an 8-hour delay. Voters had congregated since 7:00 am and were angered by the delay. The judges had also arrived on time and told voters that they had complained about the officers from the police station who were responsible for the ballots' late arrival.
4:15 pm: In the Suez Canal City of Port Said voters lined up outside more than 400 of the city's 423 polling stations. Residents said that the turnout was unprecendentedly high.
One hundred and twelve candidates are competing for two single winner seats there, while 13 party lists are competing for four seats. Parties include four that emanated from the dissolved National Democratic Party, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, the Wafd Party, the Nour Party, the Reform and Development Party, the Revolution Continues Coalition, the Egyptian Bloc, the Wasat Party, Social Peace, and the Egyptian National Party.
In the morning, military armored vehicles roamed the city to secure the poll, according to eyewitnesses
Both the Wafd and Freedom and Justice parties violated the ban on campaigning by deploying cars that toured the city today to call on people to vote for them.
Candidates complained that their placement order on ballot papers was different from that announced by the High Elections Committee. For example, the Freedom and Justice Party list was eighth on the ballot but had been told it would be second.
4:10 pm: Coming out of polling place in Nasr City, Naglaa Mohamed, 30 said: "This time elections are safer. There are no thugs as there used to be in the past. The judge was very helpful and no one pressured me to vote for a certain candidate. There is democracy because of the revolution."
4:03 pm: In Alexandria's Sidi Gaber district, the competition is fierce between the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mahmoud al-Khodeiry and formerly ruling National Democratic Party member Tarek Hisham Mustafa. "I am retired and Tarek has been giving me money. He always served the area and will always serve it. I feel the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis are after power, but Tarek is interested in serving his community," Zaki Mahmoud, 51, said told Al-Masry Al-Youm.
3:40 pm: Omar Ibn al-Khattab polling station in Dar al-Salam closed after a fight erupted as voters became angry at the slow pace of voting and the fact that the station opened late.
3:15 pm: Voting stopped early at Abdel Aziz Ashmawy School in the Hadayeq al-Qobba district of Cairo after ballot papers ran out, reported Mubashir 6th April, a Facebook page administered by the 6th April Youth Movement.
Judges overseeing voting at Noqrashy School in north Cairo said ballot papers ran out there at 2:45 pm and asked remaining voters to come back tomorrow, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party reported on Facebook. The party also said the polling station opened its doors at noon instead of 8 am.
One World Foundation reported several electoral violations, including the closure of several polling stations in Cairo, Alexandria, Assiut, Luxor and Kafr al-Sheikh for prayer, without confirmation that this time would be compensated for later in the day.
3:00 pm: In Nasr City, most polling stations had huge queues of voters outside, while others appeared to be nearly voter-free. Double-parking by voters obstructed traffic.
Irregularities were reported at the Workers' University polling station, such as a lack of indelible ink. The Freedom and Justice Party had erected a booth outside, as well as at nearly every polling station in Nasr City. At the booth young party members with laptops said they were there to direct voters to polling stations. They complained that campaigners for independent candidate Fawzi el-Sayyed were bribing voters with medallions bearing his electoral sign — an electric water heater. But the Freedom and Justice Party also distributed flyers, as well as hot beverages, candies and napkins for voters' fingers.
An elderly voter outside the Unified Experimental School said, "My brother died in 2007. I checked his national ID online and was surprised to find that his name is still registered on the electoral rosters." He added, "Since this is the case, any living person may use deceased voters' IDs to cast additional votes."
2:20 pm: As thousands vote, a sit-in protest outside the Cabinet that began on Friday continues. Some protesters say that they plan to vote, but also feel its necessary to express on the street their frustration with the military-appointed government. "We're here against the appointment of [Prime Minister Kamal] Ganzouri. His government is not a salvation government for the people. It's one for Tantawi and Mubarak. We want a revolutionary government. The elections are null because SCAF is illegitimate," said Adel Ibrahim, a protester outside the cabinet headquarters.
Others, however, say the elections are worthwhile, but there must be other efforts. "SCAF are imposing on us a Mubarak minister [in Ganzouri]. The government has to come from the revolution," said Mohamed Ebeid, a protester. "As for the elections, everyone should look into his conscience. But I will vote for a good person."
1:53 pm: Abdel Moez Ibrahim, the head of the High Elections Commission (HEC), is currently speaking at a press conference. Ibrahim said that two problems have marred the poll so far: First, some judges arrived late to polling stations because they either did not know the exact address of their respective polling station or were stuck in traffic. Second, the ballots and boxes did not reach five polling stations in Cairo on time. He said that delivering boxes and ballots was not the HEC's responsibility but the Interior Ministry's.
"The HEC is not the agency that delivers boxes and ballots, we do not have buses or drivers. We delegated the Interior Ministry to do that because it has been doing that for years," the judge said, adding that the ministry has already penalized the officers responsible for delays. Polling stations that opened late today will remain open after the deadline to make up for the delay in the morning, according to Ibrahim.
"Violations were expected," he said downplaying their significance as long as they are not taking place on a large scale.
On single-winner seats, Ibrahim reiterated that a voter can select either two professionals or two workers. "We are committed to secure a 50 percent for workers and farmers while counting the votes, it is not your business. We are responsible for that."
1:43 pm: In a press release, the Freedom and Justice Party of the Muslim Brotherhood implored Egyptian citizens to cast their votes in the elections, calling them “a blessed portal through which Egypt shall cross safely to democracy and the transfer of power to the Egyptian people.”
Secretary General Mohamed Saad Katatny also confirmed the party’s confidence in the Egyptian judiciary and army, the elections’ overseers.
“The FJP calls upon the Egyptian people to defend their right to peaceful transition of power by participating in the elections positively and effectively, to protect ballot boxes and to stand by the armed forces that undertook the task of protecting these elections,” he said.
1:30 pm: Mahmoud Salem, a prominent activist and blogger who is running for a single-winner seat in Heliopolis, wrote on his Twitter account that "some people went to some schools and didn't find my name listed in the options."
1:00 pm: Elections have been proceeding normally despite an electoral error in Assiut’s second district. On Sunday night a court ordered a halt to voting for individual seats after a candidate’s name appeared on the wrong list. The order was appealed Monday morning, and election procedures in the area did not stop while the result of the appeal was awaited.
State-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported that the court ordered the halt after a complaint by candidate Mohamed al-Koshary. A former NDP member, Koshary is running for the workers/farmers seat, but his name was listed for the regular seat.
12:45 pm: At one polling station in Maadi, there are not enough booths to accommodate voters filling out their ballots privately so people are filling out their ballots in an open room. Those waiting in line can see who people are voting for. Inside the room, voters ask each other questions and discuss who they are voting for.
12:15 pm: Popular committees and military police are helping organize lines of impatient voters at Omar Ibn Khattab polling station in Dar al-Salam, where lines have been moving at a crawl. A high-ranking police officer sat on the school’s wall, directing voter traffic and trying to calm the crowds. Some voters decided they’d had enough of the chaos and left.
“We decided around a month before the elections to protect the elections as well as our neighborhood,” said Diaq, a 47-year-old engineer and popular committee member who was helping with crowd control. “We’re doing this for our community and our country. The elections need to be governed by rules.”
“Egyptians are not opposed to order, they have just been forced to live in chaos for so long. They need to be reminded how to stay in line and wait their turn,” he said.
12:10 pm: Cairo’s upper crust lined up by the hundreds in Zamalek Monday morning, with some waiting for hours to vote.
A line of soldiers in front of the National School of Zamalek polling station were only letting a handful of voters in at a time around 11 am. Arguments broke out between poll workers, security and voters about unstamped ballots. One volunteer said the voting was slowed because the ballots did not have the required government seal and the judge inside was signing each ballot individually.
It was unclear whether the judge’s signature would be enough to validate the ballots, although that didn’t seem to stop anyone from waiting in a line that stretched down al-Sayed al-Bakry Street, around the corner and several blocks along 26th of July Street.
One volunteer from a group of friends who wore badges dubbing them the Zamalek Residents Committee said people were already waiting at 6:30 am when he arrived at the polling station.
“It’s the first time we get free elections so I definitely want to take part in it,” said Kamal Ezzat, who said the group has been getting together to do volunteer work since the January revolution. He estimated the ballots cast by late morning to be in the high hundreds.
12:00 pm: The head of Egypt's navy told state television that representatives from the police and armed forces will protect polling stations overnight until the judges overseeing polling stations return tomorrow morning.
11:50 am: Polling stations in Nasr City are experiencing a number of problems. At one station, the judge assigned to oversee the polling station arrived more than two hours late. At another, voters are not being forced to dip their fingers in indelible ink that is supposed to prevent repeat voting. At yet another station, the liberal Ghad Party is distributing promotional material to voters as they wait in line. Another station in the area is not yet open. The judge heading the station first said that there were no ballot boxes, then said that there are no ballots and that no employees to man the station. Eager voters are now protesting, chanting, "The people demand their right to vote!" and "One, two, where is the head of the station?"
11:45 am: Eyewitnesses in Old Cairo say they have seen some instances of vote buying by young men who approach people in the neighborhood and offer to give them money if they go to the polling stations. Typically, vote buying happens later in the day, with prices increasing as closing time approaches. Old Cairo residents say they expect more vote buying tomorrow, on the second day of polling.
11:39 am: The Egypt Bloc list and the Reform and Development Party have sent out campaign text messages reminding voters of the names and symbols of their candidates, violating rules that officially ended the campaigning period yesterday. So far the texts have been limited to cell phone service provider Mobinil.
"As a company, you should respect the law and not do that," said Ghada al-Zeiny, English language teacher, 38, who received a message to vote for Reform and Development candidate Mohamed al-Sharnouby while waiting in line at a polling station. "Campaigns have been over since yesterday."
11:25 am: In Dar al-Salam, where thousands of voters crowded into a six-school compound, waiting voters yelled and began pushing against the soldiers and police officers guarding a station. The crowd talked of trying to break the doors down.
A young man yelled over the fence that the ballot boxes did not have locks on them, and called for someone to find some.
Salafi posters and flyers fluttering in the area read “What do you know of God that would make you hate his law (Sharia)?”
Ahmed Eid, 23, had just emerged from a polling station at Ahmed Orabi School.
“It was pretty straightforward,” he said. “The ballot for the list was like two meters long – it took forever to find my candidate. But otherwise it went well, and felt very secure and fair. Every five minutes or so, the judge in charge would change the locks on all the boxes.”
11:06 am: At the Om al-Moamenin School in Nasr City, one ballot box did not have a lock so the judge in charge of the polling station decided to put single-winner and party-list ballots together. This could lead to confusion in the vote counting process. The judge told Al-Masry Al-Youm that he "did not have any other option" and it won't be a problem as long as he is present during the counting. A Freedom and Justice Party representative is inside the polling station.
10:59 am: An Egyptian activist says authorities are responsible for any possible violence that may erupt outside polling stations. He added that there are “intentional violations” in the administration of the electoral process.
Ahmed Fawzy, the head of the Egyptian Association For Community Participation Enhancement told Al-Masry Al-Youm that ballots have not yet been delivered to some polling stations in Assiut and Fayoum. He also said that some ballot papers for single-winner seats do not have the proper stamps, which would facilitate rigging the vote.
Fawzy said that voters at one of the polling stations in Ramses staged a protest chanting "Invalid, invalid" after they found that the ballot papers were not stamped.
Fawzy added that the High Elections Commission has always said it is well-prepared for the election, but what is actually happening is the opposite.
Fawzy further complained about "the complete absence" of security forces despite reassurances by the interior minister and Field Marshal Tantawi who said that securing the election is his "personal responsibility."
10:52 am: In Assuit, Ahmed Hassan Ammar, an independent candidate for the worker’s seat, said that the process was too slow, with only one voter entering the polling station every ten minutes at the women’s polling station at the Tarek Ibn Ziad school in the neighborhood of Walidiya. He said he was worried that not enough people will have the opportunity to vote in his area.
Ammar also said that supervisors inside the polling stations are instructing voters confused by the 73-name-long list of individual candidates, but that his campaigners were not allowed to help point out his name to voters.
Also in al-Walidiya, Assuit’s first district, many women standing in line outside a polling station said they still didn’t know for whom they were voting, and struggled to understand the mixed system. Others said they had memorized symbols for the candidates their families had chosen.
The voting process is not going quickly, either, with voters taking a long time inside the stations to find the name of the candidate they’ve chosen on the long list.
10:47 am: According to eyewitnesses, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces, visited a polling station in Heliopolis this morning at around 9:30 am. Tantawi stayed for about 10 minutes and then left, eyewitnesses said.
10:43 am: In Alexandria, extra Central Security Forces troops have been brought in from the nearby governorate of Marsa Matrouh. CSF, along with navy forces, are securing polling stations. Islamists have been gathered in front of polling stations since 6:00 am. The coastal city, Egypt's second largest, has long been a stronghold for Islamist movements. Kamal Ahmed, 30, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that he will vote for the Salafi Nour Party because of their commitment to Islamic law.
10:35 am: In Dar al-Salam, a group of voters started pushing against the soldiers guarding the polling station. Soldiers locked arms, preventing the voters from entering. A man on a megaphone tried to calm the crowd.
Another station began allowing people to enter, one minute at time, with an interval of minutes between each voter.
Voters had different opinions on the LE500 fine that the government has announced for citizens that don't show up at the polls.
"These are the worst possible conditions to vote under," said Ahmed Salah, 35, a businessman. "I don't know anything about these candidates. There's no way for me to know if I am voting for a member of the National Democratic Party or former regime member. Also you can't have elections without any security."
"These elections don't really even mean anything, because people have to vote or else they'll be fined," he said.
Minal Abdel Baqi, had just helped her 82-year-old father and 72-year -old mother vote for the first time in their lives. She was returning to vote herself.
"I am very optimistic,” she said. "This is the best time for the elections because evil on preys on the weak when they are divided. We're finding unity."
10:25 am: In the working class Cairo area of Dar al-Salam, a compound of half a dozen schools, several had not opened before 8:45, with crowds forming outside of them. Some voters were upset.
"The doors were supposed to open at 8, but they still haven't; I don't know if this is all across the capital or in just some areas," said Mahmoud Houssein, 31. "People have work to do. And the world is watching and we should be organized."
Kamal Forouq, 32, said that the gates to the polling station had still not opened because people had started yelling out competing slogans. "The crowd was getting tense," he said.
Ehab Azny, 31, used to be a student at the school where he was now voting. "I think in one way or another, it's the first time for all of us to vote," he said.
"I hope they [the elections] are fair. I have my doubts, though," he said. "But in light of the security void, its our national duty to vote."
Mounir Makram, 53, former host of the candid camera Ramadan TV show "Give Me Your Mind," in which midgets regularly jumped out of trash cans and duffle bags at passersby, was also voting at the compound. "I'm really excited, I thought I would be the first person in line," he said. "I was used to former elections when polling places would be empty until 4:00 pm. It means that Egypt might be safe after all."
There are rumors of cell phones not being allowed inside the polling station. Many campaigners are for the Freedom and Justice and the Salafi Nour Party, but there are some for the secular Egyptian Bloc party as well.
People handed out flyers and nailed posters on top of other posters. At Cairo Architectural School, signs covered the name of the school, confusing voters as to whether they were in the right place.
Other campaigners sat in booths on corners and distributed materials about candidates.
Some microbuses in the area are picking up people on the way to the school compound, but only allowing people in if they promise to vote for a certain candidate, voters said.
As in other polling locations, at the Gamal Abdel Nasser Secondary School for Girls, the Freedom and Justice Party has set up a tent with volunteers with laptops to help voters find their proper polling stations. "Watch out for the symbols, some of them are tricky. You might think a microphone is an ear of corn," an FJP volunteer warned voters.
10:15 am: Hundreds of women joined a kilometer-long line outside the Makrisi School's polling station in Heliopolis. The line showed a fair mix of veiled women in pants and coats and unveiled women, who mostly belong to Heliopolis' large Christian community. While standing there, a mix of Arabic, French and English could be heard. Meanwhile, old women holding canes were offered chairs and benches by military personnel to help them rest as they wait for hours.
A few meters from the entrance to the polling station, three teenagers offered to help voters figure out their exact polling station and number on voting lists. "We belong to the Freedom and Justice Party," they said from behind their laptop.
"We have been here since 6:30 and we are willing to sleep over here," said 14-year-old Abdel Rahman al-Shaer while handling requests from a handful of voters who gathered around him. The party has created a database with all the names and their respective polling station, said the ninth-grader. "We just enter the name and hit enter and [the details] come out."
His colleague, Abdallah Gamal, whose both parents belong to the Muslim Brotherhood and its political wing, wrote down these details on a card that carries the party's logo.
Mostafa Abdel Fattah, a 28-year-old dentist who monitors the poll on behalf of Khaled Hassan, an FJP workers candidate, asked the children to stop passing out leaflets with the party's logo, a practice that violates the ban on campaigning outside polling stations.
"I have been here since 6:30 and found old women waiting outside," he said. "The turnout is impressive. I was not expecting that." He said so far he had seen only one other monitor representing another candidate.
9:55 am: While Assiut is calm, many are reporting violations. The Freedom and Justice Party is campaigning inside polling stations, as is the Freedom and Justice Union, a party set up by Mohamed Abdel Mohsen Saleh, the former secretary general of Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party. Meanwhile, one voter, Fawzya Mounir from the village of Walidiya, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that a supervisor inside the polling station told her who to cast her vote for.
9:49 am: Campaigners for the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party have set up tents outside polling stations in Heliopolis and Dar al-Salam. In Heliopolis FJP volunteers are distributing chairs for voters to sit in while they wait to cast their ballots. The FJP is also distributing cards that show their candidates names and feature campaign slogans.
9:41 am: At the Nasr City High School for Boys, thousands wait in line for ballots that have not yet arrived. Supporters of Fawzy al-Sayyed, a member of Mubarak's former ruling party, are campaigning inside the polling station.
9:30 am: Al-Masry Al-Youm's correspondent in Assiut reports that voting there is going smoothly: Turnout is high, but voters are waiting patiently in long lines. Army soldiers are providing security at polling stations and the computerized system of collecting voters' names is being implemented. However, some people are campaigning inside of polling stations. This seems to be for the individual candidates rather than lists, and Al-Masry Al-Youm's correspondent reports that it is mostly people campaigning for their family members.
In the Cairo neighborhood of Heliopolis, eyewitness Carla Ragui Janho told Al-Masry Al-Youm: "The [Muslim Brotherhood's] Freedom and Justice Party has set up a makeshift office at the Fatma Zahra polling station right across from the polling station. In the booth, they set up a laptop to help people identify their sub stations and their number on the list. I went to tell them this is illegal campaigning. But they told me the judge of the polling station allowed them to be there. We have made up our mind anyways and this last minute campaigning would not change our mind."
9:20 am: More than an hour after voting was set to begin, many polling stations are not yet open.
8:30 am: Two Al-Masry Al-Youm reporters are waiting to cast their ballots at separate women-only polling stations in Heliopolis. Both are flooded with voters, who are expecting a long wait. Meanwhile, a member from the liberal Wafd Party is passing out small flyers to people in line, an apparent violation of election law. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party also has a young woman passing out campaign posters.
8:00 am: Polls are open.