CAIRO: Egyptian expatriates began voting in Senate elections on Sunday to choose their representatives in the newly created council.
Voting started at 9 a.m. New Zealand time, the country being the first to vote in the elections. It was followed by Australia, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Voting ends on Monday in accordance with each country’s local time.
Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said in a statement that Egyptian expatriates have started voting in the Senate elections. He added that those who are eligible to vote registered their names on the official website of the National Elections Authority (NEA) during the set period from July 25 to 31.
Voters are unable by law to cast their ballots in the headquarters of diplomatic missions in any country, Hafez said. He added that only votes sent through post to diplomatic missions will be eligible. The measure is a safety precaution and also ensures public order, he said.
Hafez added that a central operation room was set up to monitor the electoral process outside Egypt and to answer questions and respond to complaints regarding voting.
Overseas Egyptian missions have coordinated with government post offices in accredited countries to distribute voting ballots and receive letters till Aug. 12 in accordance with the time limit and preventive measures set out by the NEA for the elections. Hafez said committees were set up in 140 polling stations across 124 countries.
Minister of Immigration and Expatriates Affairs Ambassador Nabila Makram underlined the importance of following the Kallem Masr mobile app for Egyptian expats, created by the ministry. She said the app helps expats during the voting process by providing the address of polling stations and Egyptian consulates around the world. She added that expats are performing their constitutional right through mail for the first time ever.
The ministry has posted videos providing information regarding the voting process for Egyptian expats on all the ministry’s social media platforms, she said. She added that interactive posters and important links were also posted on the NEA official website.
Makram said: “Egyptian expats always play a significant role in constitutional rights. They never hesitate to perform their national duty. Now we are going through another constitutional right for Egyptians abroad through which they can elect the members of the Egyptian Senate, which is important to form in the current period.”
Hossam El-Kholy, vice-president of the Mostaqbal Watan Party, said the Senate plays an important role in drafting legislation before referral to the House of Representatives.
“If the political leadership had decided not to conduct the Senate elections at this time no one would have said anything, no one would have objected. So why now? Because the state wants it. Because the citizens want it. Because it plays a role,” he added.
President of the Arab Council for Human Rights Abdel Gawwad Ahmed said the council is monitoring Egyptian expat voting through a network of volunteers in Europe, the Americas and Arab countries.
He said technology helps to observe the electoral process minute by minute.
Meanwhile, NEA President Councilor Lasheen Ibrahim said the NEA is considering introducing a 500 Egyptian pound ($31) fine for citizens who fail to vote in the Senate elections without a sufficient reason.