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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
Dec. 18, 2011 
CONTACTS: In Atlanta, Deborah Hakes +1 404 420 5124; In Cairo, Sanne van den Bergh +20 1013511710

  
Carter Center Preliminary Statement on the Second Round of Voting in Egypt's People's Assembly Elections

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Carter Center witnesses observing the People's Assembly elections in Egypt reported progress in several aspects of polling during the second round of voting on Dec. 14-15, but found that there are numerous areas where procedures need further improvement.

On the positive side, the experience gained by judges supervising the first round of the elections was evident in the second round of voting, as many of the logistic and administrative operations improved.  In addition, Carter Center witnesses reported a reduction of illicit political campaigning during the campaign silence period in most areas.

Nevertheless, many problems observed in the first round were still evident in the second round of voting.  Assistance to illiterate voters has been inconsistent across polling stations and would be improved by issuing clear instructions to election officials. In addition, there are areas in the implementation of vote counting where the process should be enhanced, including through the development of specific and clear procedures for those responsible for the counting and aggregation of results.

In both polling and counting activities, a breakdown of communication between judicial officials and security forces was observed to hinder access to sites. The management of access to polling stations and count centers for election officials, party and candidate agents, and domestic and international witnesses was reported as unnecessarily difficult in many cases. Improvements in the security forces' awareness of their own duties is necessary,[1] as well as their coordination under judicial officials.

While the environment surrounding the elections has been generally peaceful,[2] The Carter Center notes with regret the deaths and injuries of demonstrators arising from recent violence around the Parliament and Tahrir Square. The Carter Center condemns the violence and the excessive use of force by security forces and urges a thorough and detailed investigation into these events.  Such violence undermines the fundamental right of security, which is vital for all Egyptian citizens and essential to ensure their rights of freedom of expression and of association, which are especially important during elections.

The Carter Center mission witnessed the second round of Egypt's People's Assembly elections held on Dec. 14-15 across nine of the nation's 27 governorates.[3] The Center deployed more than 40 international witnesses to all nine governorates to directly observe the pre-election environment, polling, and counting processes.

As the elections are being conducted in phases, this statement will form part of the Carter Center's overall assessment to be completed at the end of the People's Assembly elections.  This statement builds on previous statements issued during and after the first round.[4] The goal of these statements is to provide substantive and constructive feedback to the electoral authorities in the interest of achieving progressive improvements in the electoral process.  It is in this context that The Carter Center offers the following key recommendations to the Supreme Judicial Commission for Elections (SJCE).

Polling Process

  • Assign additional judicial officials to each polling center with the sole task of coordinating, liaising, and supervising security forces in their management of access to polling sites;
  • Ensure instructions are issued to all presiding judges to make clear the procedures for providing impartial assistance, if any, to illiterate voters;
  • Reinforce instructions to judges about the importance of ballot reconciliation procedures at the end of polling;
  • Ensure that any decision to extend polling hours is adequately communicated as early as possible.  In order to ensure transparency and avoid speculation, the reason for the extension should be provided. Such decisions should also be communicated to the public through all available means so that voters are informed of the extension;

Movement of Ballot Boxes

  • Implement improved logistical plans for the orderly movement of ballot boxes from polling stations to counting centers and ensure that the presiding judge is able to accompany the ballot boxes;
  • Implement procedures to record the arrival and intake of ballot boxes and other voting materials at the counting centers;

Counting Centers

  • Assign additional judicial officials to counting centers with the task of coordinating, liaising, and supervising security forces in their management of access, to ensure the orderly and timely access by authorized people, including judges, party agents, domestic and international witnesses, and others;
  • Issue clear procedures to election officials to standardize the conduct of the counting process;
  • Provide more information to electoral stakeholders on how and when the votes from the out-of-country voting process are integrated into the election results;

Complaints Procedures

  • Improve the clarity of the complaints procedures and implement systems to record and track complaints that are lodged;
  • Make concerted efforts to inform and raise the awareness of the complaints procedures among electoral stakeholders;
  • Ensure that the handling of complaints, appeals and resolutions is in accordance with the legal framework.

The full Carter Center preliminary statement may be found at www.cartercenter.org.

 

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"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

 

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[1] Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Inter-Parliamentary Union Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections, Art. 4(8): "States should take the necessary measures to ensure that parties, candidates and supporters enjoy equal security, and that State authorities take the necessary steps to prevent electoral violence."

[2] The Center acknowledges isolated incidents of physical violence committed in some cases by the security forces and in others by candidates and supporters of political parties. It was reported widely in the media that on Dec. 15, 2011, Yasser El-Rifai-the Revolution Continues was beaten by military police when he tried to enter one of the polling stations. Carter Center witnesses in Suez observed clashes between security forces and Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) supporters. The head of the Judges Club is also alleging that the security forces at a polling center in Sharkiyaa mistreated several judges.

[3] These nine governorates include the following: Beni Suef, Giza, Beheira, Ismailia, Sharqiya, Suez, Monoufiya, Sohag, and Aswan.

[4]Carter Center Statement on Egypt's Pre-election Environment, Nov. 21, 2011; Carter Center Preliminary Statement on the First Round of Voting in Egypt's People's Assembly Elections, Dec. 2, 2011;  Carter Center Statement on Egypt's Election Results and Complaints Management Process, Dec. 8, 2011.

 

 

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