Initial report on the work of monitoring the constitutional referendum 14-15 January 2014

Political background

On January 14 and 15, 2014, Egypt witnessed the referendum on the stalled 2012 constitutional amendments, which ended with the approval of the constitution with the approval of an overwhelming majority of voters, amounting to 98.1% of the total voters, in exchange for the 1.9 rejection of the proposed amendments.

The referendum on the constitution comes after a new revolutionary wave on January 25, 2011, which took place on June 30, 2013, which led to the dismissal of former President Mohamed Morsi and the suspension of the constitution, which was approved during his reign with a low participation rate and approval rate that did not exceed 64% of voters in light of an intense political climate at the time.

The dismissal of the former president came within the framework of the so-called Road Map, which included a set of measures revealed by the Armed Forces statement issued on July 3, 2013 in the presence of national and political forces (other than the Muslim Brotherhood). The most important of these measures were: -

1- Temporarily suspending the constitution and forming a committee that includes all sects and expertise to review the proposed constitutional amendments and put it to a popular referendum

2- The president of the Supreme Constitutional Court undertakes the duties of the interim president of the country and conducts early presidential elections.

3- Holding parliamentary elections

Therefore, the constitutional referendum is the most important priority of the road map that we referred to earlier, and therefore monitoring it and ensuring its integrity and transparency measures is gaining increasing importance due to its connection with the political and democratic process in general in Egypt during the next stage.

The draft amendments that the Egyptians asked for was drafted by a national committee in which all political forces were represented in a balanced manner, as the committee included (Islamists belonging to the Nour Party, which owned 22% from the seats in the previous parliament, as well as representatives of the Salvation Front that was formed by an alliance of most of the parties of civil reference that collectively owned About 30% from the previous parliament seats, and the committee included public figures who are respected at the national and international levels and are known for their impartiality, integrity and patriotism, as well as fair representation of the various societal and religious forces, and almost all articles of the constitution have been approved with an approval rating exceeding the 95% of the committee members, as approved Many of these articles are unanimous

Preparations, equipment and working mechanisms

The Maat Foundation monitored the referendum through the joint monitoring mission between the International Network for Rights and Development and the Maat Foundation for Peace, Development and Human Rights, as the monitoring activities covered 23 Egyptian governorates out of 27 governorates, through 1,200 local and international observers who were able to reach 6318 polling stations. Over the course of the two days of the referendum.

Maat Foundation managed the local monitoring component of the joint mission through the deployment of field control teams consisting of 200 teams, each team consisting of 5 observers, in addition to 23 local operations rooms in a room in each governorate, in addition to a central operations room at the headquarters of Maat Foundation, where they were received The moment-by-moment statements from the field, disseminate them widely, and submit reports to the NCHR's operations room.

Maat has used its official account on the social networking site Facebook and Twitter to publish the testimonies received from the field monitoring teams first-hand to provide the interested parties, followers, media and stakeholders with reliable information about the conduct of the referendum.

The number of statements received during the two days of the referendum and the day before it reached about 20 thousand statements, more than half of which were published on social media, and 6 periodic reports were published and sent to the media and the competent authorities, as well as notifications submitted to the operations room of the National Council for Human Rights

The governorates covered by Maat control are: (Cairo - Giza - Qalyubia - Luxor - Qena - Menoufia - Beheira - Ismailia - Suez - Port Said - Alexandria - Sohag - Assiut - South Sinai - North Sinai - Fayoum - Gharbia - Sharqia - Damietta - Dakahlia - Minya - Beni Suef - Kafr El Sheikh).

Total polling stations in the republic

Total polling stations in the governorates covered by Maat control

Total centers visited

 

 

Total visited centers out of the total of the republic

Total centers visited out of the total targeted governorates

9712

 

9171

6318

65%

69%

  The areas covered by monitoring activities were numerous within these governorates, as more than 70% were covered from various centers, neighborhoods, and administrative departments.

  

The methodology used in the control process

In order to approach the objective judgment on the integrity and transparency of the referendum process, Maat used in its monitoring of the referendum the popular censorship methodology that is based on three integrated and interrelated axes:

1- The focus of monitoring the local community environment: - It is the social context in which the voting process takes place, and this includes participation rates, the security environment and violent practices

2- Field monitoring and documentation axis: - Through monitoring the internal environment of the voting process and monitoring violations, problems and violations of the laws and procedural systems ruling inside and around the polling center.

3- Voter evaluation process axis: - Through standardized interviews in which a pre-prepared form targeting voters is used after casting the vote to enable them to evaluate the electoral process, and 100,000 voters have already been reached.

This report will reflect the main features of the first axes (monitoring the local environment) and the second (field monitoring and documentation), while the final report will include a detailed presentation of the third axis.

 

Results of the monitoring process

 

The first axis: - Monitoring the community environment

Participation rates

The percentage of participation in the referendum was 38.6% out of the total registered voters of 53.4 million, as 20.6 million voters participated in the referendum, which is approximately 20% than those who participated in the 2012 referendum that was held during the era of former President Mohamed Morsi, as well as double the rates. Participation in the referendums that took place during the era of former President Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, in which the participation rates ranged between 15 - 20%, and slightly less than the referendum of March 19, 2011, which was conducted during the era of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in which about 42 % of total enrollments participated in it.

In general, participation rates were moderate in this referendum compared to the number of voters, but they are large compared to previous referendums in Egypt. Participation rates varied between rural and urban areas, as they witnessed a high density in urban areas compared to a marked weak turnout in areas of a rural nature. .

  A table showing the voting rates in the governorates covered by the monitoring of the Maat Foundation

M

Governorate

Participation rate

M

Governorate

Participation rate

1

Cairo

40.3%

13

Ismailia

39.5%

2

Alexandria

38.3%

14

Suez

34.5%

3

Giza

32.1%

15

Bani Sweif

32.6%

4

Qalyubia

44.3%

16

Fayoum

23.7%

5

Western

52.1%

17

Minya

26.2%

6

Eastern

45.3%

18

Asyut

24.3%

7

Monufia

53.4%

19

Sohag

23.8%

8

Dakahlia

49.5%

20

Us

23.9%

9

the lake

37.3%

21

the shortest

30.6%

10

Kafr El Sheikh

42.2%

22

North Sinai

31.0%

11

Damietta

45.8%

23

South of Sinaa

33.6%

12

Port Said

51.0%

 

Security environment

The military establishment and the Egyptian police apparatus were part of the political scene in the post-July 3, 2013 stage, as the parties affiliated with the former president’s supporters tried to promote the idea that what happened was a military coup and thus consider the two institutions as opponents, and several terrorist operations were practiced against soldiers and police in Sinai. And Cairo and some other governorates during this period (Giza - Dakahlia - Aswan - Qalyubia).

Based on that, we had to monitor the security performance in the referendum to see whether the military institution and the police force would intervene to influence the results of the referendum in a specific direction or not? In general, the team of observers focused on monitoring three main aspects:

1- Did the security services provide adequate security for the polling stations?

2- Was the security presence hindering the voters' access to the voting boxes?

3- Are the security personnel inside the voting committees illegally?

Through field visits by observers to a polling station throughout the two days of the referendum, and through our monitoring of the statistics related to the security forces participating in the referendum, we can draw the following conclusions: -

1- 250,000 soldiers and officers participated in securing the referendum, most of them from the army forces. A security force consisting of about 20 officers and soldiers equipped with armored and light weapons was present in front and around each polling station, in addition to providing emergency forces and rapid intervention forces in each administrative unit serving more than Polling station

2- We did not observe any cases of preventing voters from reaching polling stations by the security forces. On the contrary, we observed frequent cases of security personnel carrying the elderly and the handicapped and enabling them to reach the headquarters of the voting committee where their names are restricted.

3 - We only monitored 8 cases of the presence of security forces inside voting committees, and they were summoned by the judge in charge of the committee to secure international observers, or to intervene to end a clash within the committee, or to confront outlaws.

4- The screening processes took place within the sub-committees in the presence of media and observers from the civil society, and many of them were broadcast on television channels, and we did not receive any complaints about the presence of security personnel during the screening processes and the announcement of the results of the sub-committees.

5- We did not observe in the media discourse issued by the military and police apparatus any direction for voters to vote in a specific direction, but the speech focused on urging voters to participate.

In light of these observations, we can comfortably determine that the security performance was largely consistent with international standards for the integrity and transparency of referendums and elections.

 

Violent practices and their impact on elections

During the post-ousting of the former President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt witnessed violent incidents in separate areas of the country. The demonstrations and protest operations were characterized by violent behavior, the burning of public property and facilities, and the destruction of police and military installations and equipment, as well as compelling legal evidence of the presence of various weapons with a number of participants in these Demonstrations and protests calculated against the Muslim Brotherhood

And then there was a fear of the impact of this atmosphere on the conduct of work in the referendum and the nature of voter participation and the extent of their turnout to vote, so the delegation of observers was interested in monitoring these manifestations and analyzing their impact on the progress of work, and specifically attention was focused on the following features:

1- The extent of the presence of violent manifestations outside and inside the polling stations

2- The parties that carried out these practices

We have already observed frequent cases of groups (there are evidence of their affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood) holding violent demonstrations near polling stations, throwing incendiary devices and fireworks at the committees and on the security forces and voters outside the committees, and this was prominent on the first day and led to the killing of a police soldier And wounding several other soldiers, as well as killing 11 voters who were preparing to cast their votes.

These demonstrations were accompanied by an increase in the number of people coming to the committees in the second half of the first day of the referendum, which had a great impact on spreading panic and fear among a large sector of voters and then reluctance to go to the polling stations for fear of being exposed to violence, and this may explain the decline in the number of voters per day. The second of the referendum, but we did not observe influential manifestations of violence inside the voting committees, as the rates and nature of insurance were largely successful in that.

Among the most prominent examples of violent practices was what observers monitored in Dakahlia on the first day in Dakahlia, where about a hundred members of the Muslim Brotherhood blocked the ring road linking the village of Minya Sandoub and Mansoura, which connects the Dakahlia governorate with three other governorates.

Observers also monitored cases of gunfire being fired at some committees in Beni Suef as well as in Salah Salem School - Nasser Center, and in Minya, the Shaheen district, west of Minya, witnessed a state of security alert after unidentified persons fired a number of shamares and Molotov cocktails inside the Al Salam Preparatory School for Boys committee.

  Violent demonstrations led to the temporary closure of some committees, as in Kafr Hilal School in Baraka Sabaa in Menoufia Governorate, and Ali Gad School in Sidi Bishr in Alexandria, and observers in Al-Muntazah neighborhood in the same governorate in the Abd al-Halim Mahmoud School observed a demonstration, assault on citizens and burning property

There have also been some acts of violence outside the scope of the committees against supporters of the constitution by unknown groups, in the city of Sars Al-Layyan in the Governorate of Menoufia, for example, two assaulted a woman who carried a picture of General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and she was rallying with grace, and the woman wrote a report on the incident.

The second axis: - voting procedures and the most important observations

During the two days of voting in the referendum, the observers monitored a wide range of observations and problems, but these problems were not so common that they could influence the final outcome of the electoral process, and we can divide these problems under the following categories: -

First, the behavior of those responsible for supervising the referendum process  

In general, the behavior of the committee employees and supervising judges was neutral and professional. However, we observed some cases of judges or committee employees directing voters to vote in a specific direction or affecting the will of the voters. These facts were:

1- Observers monitored two incidents of judges preventing voters from voting first in the eastern city of Faqous, Faqous Military Secondary School Committee, Committee No. 12.13.14, where the judge prevents voters from voting by expelling them from the committees, and a similar case was reported in the 6th of October School in the Imbaba neighborhood.

2- The report of Committee No. 124 Taha Hussein School - Al-Munib was edited after the head of the committee taught an elderly man in the field No

3- Judge Mahmoud Hamada was excluded from Al-Nahda School in Qena due to voter directing. The Qena Prosecution office also ordered the imprisonment of an employee of the court for directing voters without the constitution

4- In Shebin al-Kom, in Kafr al-Sheikh Khalil Preparatory School, Committee 81-82, a judge was replaced based on complaints from citizens that he directed the voters to vote No.

5- 3 employees were replaced following complaints from citizens in Ashmoun, Tala and Shebin al-Kom Center

6- Shubra Secondary School for Girls, Shubra Al-Balad Al-Qalyubia, an employee was spotted calling for No Vote in Committee No. 157

7- In Martyr Jalal Al-Shahawi School in Fayoum, the Public Prosecution employee directed the voters to vote No

8- In Kafr El-Sheikh, the center of the new Bella Elementary School, an employee was replaced from commencing work within Committee No. 6 of the new Bella Primary School after complaints from citizens for deliberately causing chaos within the committee

9- In the Minya Governorate, in the Bani Mazar Center of the Experimental School, we observed that an employee prevented female Christian women from voting before she was excluded.

10- In Shubra Al Shehab Secondary School in Al Qanater, a judge was spotted directing female voters to vote No

 Second: Influencing the will of the electorate      

In many cases, we spotted attempts to direct voters to vote without, especially in front of women's committees in several governorates, such as Port Said, Menoufia, Cairo, Giza, Minya, Beni Suef, Assiut, Alexandria, and Sharkia, and we also monitored a campaign to distribute yes to the constitution and pictures of Sisi in several areas carried out by a youth group whose affiliation is unknown

 We also monitored the distribution of leaflets calling for the rejection of the constitution in most governorates, and we also monitored cases of trying to prevent voters from voting in some areas, as happened in Helwan in Al Maasara, Al Sahwa School, where an unknown group tried to prevent the voters from casting their votes and the security dispersed them, and we also observed unknown persons on the street Port Said, Bab Al-Sharia district, blocking the road to prevent voters from casting their votes

We also monitored cases of collecting national ID cards from voters to prevent them from casting their vote, as in Beni Suef at Al-Fashn Center - where we received reports that groups gave cash and blankets to citizens before the referendum and collected their ID cards, and they did not hand them over until after the end of the referendum.

 Third: Administrative procedures, opening and closing committees

Most of the committees witnessed delays in opening dates for periods ranging from 10 minutes to 40 minutes due to the delay in the arrival of judges, and some committees witnessed poor organization due to the lack of experience of the employees responsible for the committee. We did not monitor the closing of committees before their appointment in the areas covered by the supervision of Maat Foundation

However, many cases of errors were observed in the voters' lists, as it was noticed that the names of deceased persons were found in one of the committees, and it was noticed that voters complained about the absence of their names in committees in which they were accustomed to voting previously and transferred them to other committees far away

In South and North Sinai, there was a very prominent problem represented in the distances between the polling station and the place of residence, sometimes reaching 30 kilometers.

Conclusion and recommendations

The referendum that took place in Egypt on January 14 and 15 is preparing - by standards of freedom and integrity - a free and fair referendum to a large extent and has not witnessed events that could affect the final results, but it witnessed cases of violence that had an impact on voting rates, as well as some administrative errors resulting The lack of experience and competence of the employees responsible for the work of the committees, as well as the predominance of political affiliations for a few judges and employees and their directing to the voters to vote without

In light of this initial report, we can come out with the following recommendations: -

1- Investigating incidents of some judges directing voters to vote without, and taking the measures stipulated in the Judicial Authority Law to injure them.

2- Working to motivate citizens to participate extensively in electoral processes and referendums, and to pay attention to awareness-raising

3- To accelerate the establishment of the National Election Commission stipulated in the constitution to provide an independent and permanent administrative entity that supervises all stages of the electoral process and has the necessary executive cadres to manage the electoral process.

4- Setting solutions to problems in the distance between the polling stations and the place of residence

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