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Saudi Arabia

1.48m to vote in municipal polls

JEDDAH: Over 1.48 million men and women will vote in the Dec. 12 municipal council elections this year, according to the General Committee for the Municipal Council Elections.
Judai Al-Qahtani, head of the committee, said there would be over 1.35 million men and 130,637 women voters, according to a report in an online publication recently.
Al-Qahtani said there would be 548,945 new men and women voters, with men making up 418,380. There were 277,761 men and women found ineligible, which included 51,230 soldiers. Military personnel are not allowed to vote.
Officials removed from the voter’s roll the names of 30,086 deceased people, and 171,684 names that were repeated. The committee also removed 24,761 people for violating age and other criteria.
There were 791,411 voters in the first elections and 405,783 in the second one, according to reports. The third municipal elections were approved in a royal decree last year and will see two-thirds of the councils elected.
The voting age has been reduced from 21 to 18 years to allow for the participation of young people in the country’s decision-making. The first elections saw 179 councils set up with 1,212 members, with the second elections having 285 councils and 2,112 members.
The upcoming polls would see 284 councils with 3,159 members, two-thirds or 2,106 elected, on condition that each council not exceed 30 members, and with one-third appointed by the minister of municipal and rural affairs.
There are now 424 polling stations for women out of 1,263 in cities and governorates across the Kingdom, with local election committees formed for all regions. These committees oversee the validation of voter’s rolls and the smooth administration of polling stations.
Election committees are making sure that all citizens have an opportunity to participate including those who are ill or have physical disabilities. These people are allowed to nominate a person to participate on their behalf. Their representatives must produce certified documents to do so. If a citizen cannot participate, like a prisoner or detainee, a representative must be given power of attorney to do so.
According to the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, the Interior Ministry would be responsible for security at polling stations and not private firms. The ministry had turned down a request from various municipalities across the country for private security firms to be employed during the elections.
It has urged all municipalities to coordinate all their security needs with the Interior Ministry inside and outside polling stations. Officials from the two ministries have already agreed to coordinate efforts on this aspect of the elections.

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