Published on Al-Ahram weekly online, Issue No. 1076, by Amirah Ibrahim, 15 – 21 December 2011.
Not only does the army take part in protecting ballot stations, but it also contributes to an information process conducted by many civil bodies which introduces guidelines on correct voting … //
… Many complained they work in Cairo or Giza but that their ID is stamped in other governorates, mostly far off places, making them unable to reach polling stations in time.
My wife should go south to Aswan to vote but this costs a lot, complained an old man in Imbaba. We do not know any of the candidates. We do not want to vote for them, commented a young lady in the farming town of Galabiya.
The officers and soldiers with quiet patience gave advice but never suggested or favoured any political side. The vehicles broadcast famous songs to attract the attention of passersby.
In the evenings, there were no more military activities. Groups of volunteers spread through the streets and mega stores, speaking to the people to motivate them to go vote.
Ghada Abdel-Salam joined a group of 20 volunteers of various political hues. Some of us are supporters of ex-president Mubarak, some are behind those still sitting in Tahrir Square. We are all united in one goal, to rebuild Egypt, Abdel-Salam said excitedly.
Over the week, the group went from one town to another carrying the message of how to vote, how to select your right parliamentary representatives, and how to avoid being cheated or lied to.
Abdel-Salam went from one floor to another in City Mall on Al-Haram Street, Giza. On the ground floor, her colleague Adli was sitting on a chair, playing his cello to shoppers enjoying the music.
We use music to communicate with high class people. When they stop to listen, we just pass a small flyer with a brief message written in it. We ask them to give it to someone they know. They too read it and that is what we want, stated Abdel-Salam.
Adli, who designed the flyers, is a graduate of mass communications in Cairo University. He said the group had printed 20,000 copies of the form for LE280.
We all paid the amount. We refused to take any donations from political groups or parties, he added.
At the railway station, police stopped one of the volunteers. They took me to the security office where I met a police officer. When I showed him one of the flyers we distribute he laughed and asked me to give him more to show to his neighbours and family. It was really encouraging, Abdel-Salam added.
The coming weeks will see more volunteers moving south to Upper Egypt where the second and third rounds of voting are set to take place. (full text).