Egyptians aren't buying the 27 percent voter turnout number

Published October 25th, 2015 - 02:05 GMT
Egypt election officials sit at an empty polling station on the second day of voting, Oct. 19, 2015. (AFP/File)
Egypt election officials sit at an empty polling station on the second day of voting, Oct. 19, 2015. (AFP/File)

It's been three years since Egypt saw its first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, come into power. That didn't turn out so well.

For some, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi — seen as more of a secular leader — was supposed to be different. But just like before, the elections designed to show support for Sisi's administration became an example of low voter turnout when opposition supporters shunned the polls. Runoff elections are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. 

The elections committee said nearly 27 percent, which is about 7.3 million Egyptians, voted in the elections. Media reports cited the number as a disappointing turnout.

But even that percentage sounded high. It was a drastic change in the first two days' turnout, when only 2 percent of voters made it to the polls. Egyptians weren't convinced.

"30 percent? Do you think we are idiots!!!" 

"This guy was jailed for 5 years in an incitement for murder case; he won the elections with 18,472 votes. #DoYouThinkWeAreIdiots #Egypt"

"All voting committees are empty, all media said #NobodyWent to vote, and the result was 26% who voted. I can only say, #DoYouThinkWeAreIdiots"

There's a number of reasons Egyptians weren't interested in voting — fear, no interest in the candidates, or a lack of faith in the democratic system. In the 2011 Arab Spring, not voting became as powerful a political statement as voting itself. 

Rumors of an imposed fine didn't help. While Egypt announced a 500 EGP ($62) fine for anyone who didn't vote, people took it with a grain of salt.

"Only in Egypt. The imam before calling for prayer said, 'Those who did not vote will be fined 500 pounds, and his name will be taken off of the free food list.' Then he called for prayer."

"500 pound fine for those who did not vote, the new definition of democracy in Egypt."

And some say it's easier to count the stark number of people voting than those who aren't. 

"For the fourth year in a row we are threatened to be fined with 500 EGP, I believe that this is the only source of income for Egypt now!!!"

"Every time they impose a fine of 500 pounds on those who do not vote, why don’t they for once give a reward of 500 pounds for those who vote"

By Hayat Norimine

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