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False votes in Egypt’s elections … ignorance or a punitive vote?

The curtain has fallen on the parliamentary elections that were held in Egypt in several stages in order to choose the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and despite the weak participation of the voters in the voting process, a significant number of those who participated decided intentionally or ignorantly that their votes be as nothingness by nullifying the card Electoral.

Looking at what the National Elections Commission announced, we find that millions of Egyptians invalidated their electoral votes during the four stages of the parliamentary elections that took place between August and December of this year.

According to official statistics, there are 3 million invalid electoral votes in the lists and individual systems in the first phase of the House of Representatives elections, in which the participation rate was 28.06%, with a total attendance of about 9 million voters, and in the second phase the number of invalid votes reached one and a half million votes out of about 9 million Voter participated in the electoral process.

Similarly, things took place in the Senate elections that preceded the Representatives, where the number of voters reached about 9 million voters, with a participation rate of about 14% of the total number of voters of about 63 million, and the number of invalid votes reached about one million 400 thousand votes, at a rate of more than 15% of the total The participants.

Supersedes the false voice

The phenomenon of the high rates of invalid votes does not appear as a consequence of the recent parliamentary elections. During the presidential elections that took place in 2014 and 2018 and witnessed the victory of the current President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, not only did the numbers of invalid votes increase, but he also ranked second in the results of the competition race in an incident that raised many Criticism and irony.

In the 2014 presidential elections, the invalid votes were registered 1 million 40,608 votes, outweighing the votes of the rival candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, who received only 757,511 votes.

In the 2018 elections, candidate Mustafa Musa won the third place with 2.7% of the votes, while the invalid votes won 7.2% of the vote.

In the interpretation of the supremacy of the void voice, the National Center for Parliamentary Consultation considered the great rise of invalid votes a very dangerous phenomenon, indicating that the void voices in the list system are higher than the void votes in the individual, with a total of 764 thousand votes.

In a statement issued after the end of the first phase of the parliamentary elections, the Center confirmed that the voiding of the vote was deliberate, listing the reasons for what it called the punitive vote, which is the voter’s lack of conviction of the candidate and his lack of interest in the electoral process as a whole, in addition to fear of repeating the experience of the National Democratic Party in elections. 2010, at the end of the era of the late President Hosni Mubarak, before the January 2011 revolution toppled him.

The center believed that the invalid votes may be the result of candidates running in electoral districts to which they do not belong, as well as the adverse effect of financial incentives, as some candidates used money to mobilize the vote.

The National Center for Parliamentary Consultation continued in its statement, “The voter has the awareness to utter these financial incentives, by voting against these incentives, and giving the vote to the other candidate, as a punishment for underestimating him.”

The invalid votes are a punitive vote according to Al-Jazeera observers

Voices void letters

In an article titled “Letters of False Voices,” the journalist Syed Ali, who is one of the media professionals close to the authority, saw that false voices may appear terrifying in terms of form, but they may be an advanced stage of political awareness of what he called the “pro-state opposition”.

Ali concluded from the messages of false votes that there are those who are protesting a vote inside the ballot box, appreciating that protest, saying, “This is a protest voice that interacts with a vote and does not go to political intrigues or underground operations or is involved in suspicious operations. That is, the false vote does not worry those who are reasonable, understand the significance and are available On the analysis of the causes of the growing phenomenon. “

The journalist considered that the false voice is a positive voice moving within the framework of an established political legitimacy that he believes. He did not reject the electoral process altogether, but “expressed his opinion by nullifying his vote to make his voice heard,” as he put it.

“Respecting this voice is a duty and it is necessary to stand before it and analyze it, so that we will not lose it completely in the upcoming elections, because the invalid electoral votes carried a message from a sector that is not satisfied with some conditions, but they are committed to supporting the state,” he added.

Apart from the motive of protest, there is another reason for the invalid vote that Ali referred to, which is related to the lack of knowledge of the voter in the correct way to vote, which results in the invalidity of the vote.

Practical protest

With the high voices denouncing the deviations witnessed in the parliamentary elections, such as electoral bribes, blackening of cards and the absence of opposition, the phenomenon of the rise of false votes appeared as a protest by the voters against every deviation of the voting process.

From his point of view, the former parliamentarian, Dr. Izz al-Din al-Kumi, saw the invalid votes as a punitive vote by voters against elections run by the National Security Agency, as he described it.

He added to Al-Jazeera Net that there is a team of voters who are defeated, as they were threatened with imprisonment or a fine after boycotting the Senate elections, so the regime punished in the House of Representatives elections by nullifying its vote.

As for the second party, it participated in the elections in order to obtain the electoral bribe, and therefore matters did not make a difference to him, whether he voted for the candidate from whom he obtained the money or not.

And the third team – and the talk of the government – was brought to the polling stations by cars, and was often not aware of the electoral system, which resulted in the invalidation of his vote by mistake.

And he considered that the low turnout along with the invalid votes and the blackening of electoral cards and bribes are phenomena indicating the corruption of the entire electoral process, and that a big door opens to question the validity of the results of these elections, in addition to being a popular message of rejection under the current system.

“If a real referendum took place on the legitimacy of this system, the system would come in second place after the invalid votes,” he concluded.

System lie

However, the head of the Egyptian Center for Media and Public Opinion Studies, Mustafa Khoudary, goes further than criticizing the phenomenon of false votes for denying it and considering it a lie of the system’s making to delude the people that there is massive participation in the elections.

He explained to Al-Jazeera Net that the volume of actual participation according to the estimates of the Egyptian Center for Media and Public Opinion Studies – after all the colors of mobilization, intimidation and enticement used by the system – did not exceed 4 million participants in all stages of the electoral process.

Khoudary went on to say, “The regime’s announcement of this huge volume of invalid voices was intended so that the media would talk about it as if it were real, and thus the media implicitly acknowledges the size of the fake participation announced by the system,” explaining that the authority does not care about the size of the correct or false votes as much as it seeks to approve everyone by the turnout Elections and the consequent stability of the legitimacy of the system.

Accordingly, there are no indications of the phenomenon of the rise of false voices, according to the opinion of the researcher in the field of public opinion, referring to the absence of political action in Egypt.

He continued, “All that there is is that Sisi completes with the parliamentary elections the constitutional and legal system of his system with legislative institutions that work to protect him from any emergency circumstances, which entail legal accountability for him for his decisions that caused Egypt to lose its land, wealth, borders, and its strategic share of the Nile water.”




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