Sunday, March 20, 2011

Egyptian Voters Making History, part 2.

This is part 2 for today’s blog on the referendum:
Voting lines from the morning.
I went by our neighborhood polling place about an hour before it closed today.  The lines were shorter, but still about a half a block in each direction for the women's and men's lines.  It was still peaceful and well-organized.  The army had not been present in the morning but were there with the police in the evening.  The feeling was still content and happy for voters in line.
The only time I saw anyone unhappy in the line was at one point in the morning when a few people in the street started chanting, I think urging people to vote "no" in the referendum.  There was one voter in line who seemed angry about this and yelled something at them, I assume telling them to stop chanting.  Other than that, everything I saw was quiet, orderly and celebratory.

Here are some videos I took this morning at the voting poll.  I have quite a few more that I'm still working on uploading with YouTube.

Here is the link for this video:

Here is the link for this video:

Here's a video of the inside of the high school where our neighborhood votes, taken from looking through the outside gate where the line of voters were waiting to get in.
This video is available at this link:

These elections seem to make things very easy for voters, requiring only an identification, and providing special accommodations for elderly people who were taken to the front of the line and allowed to go straight in to vote.   Here's a photo of a police officer helping an elderly person go straight into the voting poll without waiting in line.
When the lines were a couple blocks long in our neighborhood, I heard that police were informing voters of other polling places that had shorter lines where they could also go to vote.  It seems to be much easier to vote here than in the U.S. where voters must go to one particular voting poll and if their name is not on the list, then they're sometimes not allowed to vote or must instead fill out a 'provisional ballot' which may or may not be counted.

I was surprised and happy to see that no one objected to me taking pictures and shooting videos outside of the polling place.  The police were monitoring things in the morning and the police and army were there when I went by an hour before polls closed and no one said a word to me when I was taking photos.  Many Egyptians were also taking photos of themselves and their friends and family members in line and after voting.  

I haven’t found any news saying any results yet from the referendum today.  Here’s a link to an article from today discussing some updates on the elections and the positions of notable Egyptian leaders.  The article discussed how there were about 17,000 judges and members of the judiciary as well as 36,000 soldiers and police guarding and overseeing the polls.  The judiciary is very well respected here so their active involvement in the polls is sure help the fairness of the process. 

A couple days before the election, I received an email from the American University in Cairo’s law department inviting Egyptian students to participate in a training, organized by the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, on monitoring of the elections.  Official election monitoring at this point can only be done by Egyptians. 

I was surprised to read that ElBaradei was attacked by Islamists when he went to vote.  He had to leave the polling place without voting.  There was also some problem in one southern province where members of the judiciary had been unable to get to their posts until the army air-lifted them in.  Polling hours were extended from 7pm until 9pm in that area.

Here's a video I took about 45 minutes before the polls closed in my neighborhood:
This video is available at this link:

Update on Libya:

Though Quadafi had said that there would be a ceasefire because of the U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing a No Fly Zone, he defiantly initiated 14+ hours of attacks on the city of Bengazi, the city where the protests first took hold which has been governed by those opposing Quadaffi for the last couple weeks.   
A press conference from the U.S. Pentagon was broadcast on the news and announced that 110 cruise missiles shot from U.S. war ships have hit more than 20 targets in Libya.  French aircraft have also participated in air strikes.  
Christian Science Monitor online caption:  "A French Mirage 2000 jet fighter taking off for Libya from the military base of Dijon on Saturday, March 19. Officials from the United States, Europe, and the Arab world have launched "Operation Odyssey Dawn" to protect civilians as Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces attacked the heart of the country's rebel uprising."  Anthony Jeuland/AP
State TV in Libya is showing scenes from today of Quadafi supporters rallying around the compound where he is staying.  I assume this is to try to discourage air strikes against his compound.

A summit was held in France today to discuss the situation in Libya.  Hillary Clinton and prime ministers or foreign ministers from Britain, Canada, Germany, Norway Italy, Qatar, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Denmark, Belgium, Spain and Poland.  Egyptian presidential candidate, Amr Moussa   Here is a link to a New York Times article about this:

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