November 29, 2011

Elections, Day One

What went down in the first round of voting in Egypt.

Shelby: Millions of Egyptians turned out to vote in a historic election for their country. Schools and government offices were closed, and when polling stations opened at 8:00 am, hundreds of people were already standing in lines that stretched for blocks determined to vote. One of them was Ahmed, who you met yesterday. We followed up with him to see how the day went.

Ahmed: My mom waited five hours to vote.

Shelby: It is the first election since the fall of Egypt’s former President Hosni Mubarak. When he was in power, results were rigged. But this time, Egyptians believe they have a voice.

He says, ‘All my life, I’ve never voted, until right now. I feel like my vote has value,’ he says.

This week, Egyptian voters are choosing members of parliament, lawmakers who will play a key role in drafting a new constitution for Egypt.

The elections will take place over three rounds and will decide a share of parliament’s 498 seats. The results won’t be available for weeks. Then in June, Egyptians will vote for a new president.

The polls opened even after violent clashes broke out for nine days leading up to the election. With the police and the army keeping order, security was tight for long lines of patient voters.

Outside, activists broke the rules by handing out campaign information — something that is illegal to do within 48 hours of voting. But inside, party workers and officials watched closely to make sure the voting was free and fair.

Election officials said turnout was much higher than expected, and that only minor violence such as fistfights had erupted at a few polling centers in Cairo.

“It’s my first vote. So happy.”

Shelby: About 50 million Egyptians are eligible to vote this week, but not all of them are hitting the polls. There are still protestors camped in Tahrir Square who are refusing to vote. They say Egypt’s military government, which took control after Mubarak stepped down, must go first.

‘The army did not step down,’ says this protester. ‘None of our demands were achieved.’

But the long lines of voters throughout the country are proof that the vast number of Egyptians disagree. They, too, want to see the generals pushed from power, but they believe it can be done through the ballot box.

Shelby Holliday, Channel One News .


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