Protesters have continued to occupy Tahrir Square since last week, but their numbers were low at midday Monday. Tents were sprawled across the square, where hundreds gathered to demand that the military council step down. Many in the square were boycotting the elections.
“They’re only going to forge the elections,” said Hesham Adl. “The only people who will be elected to the government are members of [Mubarak's disbanded party, the National Democratic Party] or the Brotherhood, and I fear there will be clashes.”
Like others, he has been in Tahrir since clashes broke out Nov. 19. “I’m staying here until there are changes made in the country,” said Mr. Adl.
Inside several Cairo polling stations, the process was slow but orderly. Voters were given two ballots, one for the individual candidates that will make up one-third of the lower house of parliament, and another for the proportional list-based system that will fill the rest of the seats. Poll workers explained the process to voters as they handed them massive ballots that accommodated more than 100 candidates in many districts. A symbol was printed next to each candidate’s name for illiterate voters.
Election monitors reported significant violations, though it is not yet clear how systematic they may have been. Sherif Azer, deputy head of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, says a coalition of observers had reported violations that included vote buying, group voting, preventing monitors from entering polling stations, campaigning inside polling stations, and a small number of violent clashes.
He also says that 90 percent of polling stations opened late; some did not have enough ballots, and others lacked ink to mark voters' fingers and prevent repeat voting.