- Middle East/North Africa
As the first part of the day went by in the second phase of the constitutional referendum, monitoring groups reported scattered violations, including delays in opening polling stations, absent judges and directed voting.
The Free Egyptians Party operations room in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Minya said that 12 complaints were filed in the early hours of voting, mostly related to the identity of women wearing the face veil, the absence of the indelible phosphoric ink and delays in opening the polling stations.
The absence of phosphoric ink was also reported by the operations room of the National Salvation Front in the Delta city of Kafr al-Sheikh. The front’s operations room also reported that in the Delta city of Tala, Monufiya Governorate, voters complained about the absence of phosphoric ink, the voting forms not being sealed, and the voting stations being shut down repeatedly without clear reasons.
Several monitoring initiatives also reported group voting and campaigning close to the polling stations.
The head of the monitoring organization Justice and Development, Nady Atef, said that dozens of Islamists have been monitored trying to talk voters into voting “yes” in front of some polling stations in some villages.
In Minya, the monitoring committees of Justice and Development and another group, Popular Watch, spotted Muslim Brotherhood members assembling voters and transporting them in buses to polling stations in Dirmwas and Malawy.
Group voting was also reported by state-run news agency MENA when members of the Freedom and Justice Party in the village of Eastern Tazmnt in Beni Suef, Upper Egypt, transported village residents from their homes to polling stations and instructed them to vote “yes.”
Similarly, a statement released by the National Salvation Front said that in the districts of Imbaba, Giza Governorate, and Khosos, Qalyubiya Governorate, voters were influenced inside and outside voting stations. Group voting was reported by the Front in Tala, Monufiya Governorate.
The front also reported multiple complaints of directing voters inside and outside the polling stations in the Delta’s Kafr al-Dawar in Beheira Governorate, Samalout in Minya Governorate and in the Imbaba district of Giza Governorate.
State owned news agency MENA reported that a member affiliated with the Freedom and Justice Party has been using a mosque to call on people to vote “yes” to the draft constitution. MENA added that the FJP member was using a microphone at a mosque in Sanhara village in Qalyubiya.
Lack of judges is another irregularity mentioned by several groups.
In the working-class district of Omraniya, Giza, there are polling stations without judges, some reports said. In other polling stations, judges refused to show their personal identification to prove that they are authorized to supervise the polling booths, a problem that also occurred during the first phase of the referendum. In addition, one person was arrested for impersonating a judge, the National Salvation Front reported.
Meanwhile, a judge at a polling station in Adwa, Minya, discovered that a lawyer belonging to the Freedom and Justice Party was performing the work of the secretary of the High Judicial Elections Commission, which supervises the presence of administrative staff within the polling station, MENA reported
Mahmoud Abu Shusha, a member of the secretariat of the high elections commission, claimed that 100 percent of the complaints regarding the absence of judges from polling stations during the first phase of the referendum were proved to be incorrect.
Another member, Mohamed al-Tanboly, said that whoever doubts the identity of a judge supervising a polling station should head to the main polling stations to inquire about the judge’s details, saying that voters’ demands to know the judges’ identities was a burden on them and disrupted their work.
An additional violation reported by the National Salvation Front’s operations room is pre-filled ballots. Such an incident was reported in a polling station in Imbaba, where a ballot box was already filled with cast ballots, despite the small number of voters queuing by the station.
The front added that it witnessed a judge at a polling station in Kafr Saad, Damietta Governorate, stuffing ballot papers inside the box.
Meanwhile, MENA said that ballots were being circulated in Ahnasia, Beni Suef, as people traded them under the direction of Freedom and Justice Party members in the village.
The voting, which is taking place in 17 governorates, is expected to conclude at 11 pm.