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Egypt votes on constitution - Daily News Egypt

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Egypt votes on constitution

Voters from 10 governorates cast their ballot on the draft constitution

Voter looking for this name on the electoral ballot on 15 December. (DNE/ Hassan Ibrahim)

The first day of voting on the constitutional referendum was held on Saturday despite calls for its postponement.

Voters from the governorates of Cairo, Alexandria, Daqahleya, Qaliubiya, Sharqeya, Assiut, Sohag, Aswan, North and South Sinai headed to the polling stations to cast their votes.

The remaining 17 governorates will vote in the second phase, on Saturday, 22 December.

According to state-run Al-Ahram newspaper, there are 7,000 judges overseeing the referendum.

Despite having announced that it would not be supervising the voting process, the Judges Club has set up an operation room to assist the few judges from the club who have decided to oversee proceedings.

The National Observatory for the Integrity of the Elections, which is made up of over 15 NGOs, has launched a campaign called Raqeb Ya Masry, which aims to observe and document the referendum. The Shayfenkom movement and the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights are monitoring the polling stations and documenting violations.

Islam Abdel-Hamid, from a campaign called Lazem, helped set up an operation room to observe the referendum in Alexandria. Abdel-Hamid said some polling stations were chaotic. “Only two people are supposed to go in, but sometimes 10 are allowed in at the same time.”

Reports of cars of campaigners circling cities in Assuit and urging people to vote “Yes” have been circulated by activists. Under the rules of Egyptian elections all campaigning must cease 48 hours prior to the vote.

Earlier on Saturday the High Elections Committee urged judges to show their judicial credentials to voters, as doubts surfaced about monitoring procedures. Some judges took offence to voters asking for their IDs.

Wael Ref’at, a lawyer and spokesperson of the Revolution Youth Coalition monitoring the referendum said “this puts doubts over the whole process.”

North Sinai reporter Nasser Al-Azazy said that the situation was very calm, even in the polling stations with a large number of voters. He said that there are Islamists on the street with laptops helping people find their polling stations.

Political groups, mainly the Freedom and Justice Party and the National Salvation Front, launched campaigns last week to try and sway public opinion.

Ahead of the referendum, clashes erupted between pro-Morsy demonstrators in Alexandria and anti-Morsy protesters following Friday prayers at one of the oldest mosques in Alexandria.

Egyptians abroad started voting Wednesday, 12 December and will cast their ballots until Monday, 17 December.

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