Egypt’s Election Through the Eyes of Its Supervisors

“I woke up at 5.00 a.m. to get to the polling station at 8.00 a.m., at least one hour before it opens,” said Doaa al-Ashmawi, a judge at a polling station in Cairo’s Gammaliya.

Doaa started her day by casting her vote before allowing voters to do the same.

She described the voting day as “a mentally rather than physically tough day” because of the effort exerted to help voters at polling stations.

Ashmawi said that the biggest difficulty on the first day of voting is the voters’ unfamiliarity with the procedures and the insistence of some on breaching regulatory laws.

The judge in particular needs to be very focused in order to deal with any potential violation, she explained.

“I cannot go to the restroom and leave the polling station,” she said, adding that the station remains open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. with no breaks to avoid overcrowding inside and outside.0

Ashmawi helps the blind and disabled to vote or allows an escort to aid them.

“What some consider painful is normal to us,” said an army officer taking part in securing the elections.

The officer, who wished to remain anonymous, said that he performs the same tasks every day, whether inside or outside his unit.

He explained that he has become used to coping with any situation however hard, adding that he is accustomed to staying for long periods of time in high temperatures.

The officer said he does not need to buy food because he depends on the daily army allowance he is given.

Dealing with civilians is difficult, he said, adding that he considers it the toughest part he faces during the two-day voting process, in addition to anticipating any possible violence.

“Under these circumstances, an army officer expects any terrorist attack while securing polls,” the officer said.

A police officer securing the electoral process has said that high temperatures do not exhaust any policemen, yet added that he finds it very difficult to deal with voters because they are unaware of the rules and regulations.

Even though he woke up at 3.00 a.m. to get to the polling station he secures, the officer said this is not a problem for him.

What constitutes a problem is the unhygienic restrooms, revealed the officer, who preferred not to be named.

The same issue is a concern for an election worker overseeing the voting process at a polling station.

The man, who has asked to remain anonymous, also said that restrooms are problematic for election workers because all employees take turns to go and the restrooms conditions are unhygienic.

According to him, it is very difficult to have a bite during the day. He explains that he must wait until 9.00 p.m. when polls close.

The man said that the dancing and festivities during the elections delight him and break the routine during the rough working day.

“The turnout increases after 5.00 p.m., which means that the hours to follow are the hardest.”

Source : Aswat Masriya