CAIRO: Going to a poll station to cast one’s voting, to monitor the electoral process or even to work in the administration of the electoral procedures seems normal, yet some people go to earn a living.
Outside a polling station in Cairo’s northern district of Al-Marg, a young man set up a laptop computer in booths to help voters find their sub-poll station and their number on the voting list.
“I wait for elections to earn a living,” said Ahmed, the young man, standing near Gamal Abdel Nasser School polling station-in Cairo’s district of Al-Marg, holding his open laptop and offering help to voters.
“Know your polling station and number in the voters list for 1 EGP,” Ahmed whispered while getting close to a potential customer.
“Several people come to this polling station to cast their ballots without knowing neither their affiliated polling station nor their serial number in the voters list,”, said Ahmed.
“I usually ask people whether or not they know these required information and if they say no, I offer to help them” Ahmed added.
I never ask a voter how much they should pay but the tariff is usually one Pound, said Ahmed who added that he pays 50 Pounds per month for the internet service used in checking the proper polling stations for a voter.
Since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in January 2011, Egypt experienced several parliamentary ballots, presidential elections and referendums in which many unemployed Egyptian young people found a temporary job that does not require many skills.
In Egypt’s villages and rural areas where the percentage of illiteracy rises, young people like Ahmed wait impatiently to earn living out of helping voters to know the data required.
“I have been doing this job in front of this polling station for several years, it is my preferable polling station as it is always designated to women and they pay me well and without hassle,” Said Khaled, another young man in front of a polling station at Cairo’s poor district of Manshiet Nasser.
He said he arrives to the polling station one hour before the voting starts to prepare the computer and flyers in which he writes down the data for voters.
Alaa Salman, a first time voter, said he received the flyer telling him how to vote from “the guys with the computer.”
“In presidential elections, most voters do not need help getting their numbers because the candidates are less than parliamentary ballots,” said Khaled.
In this presidential election of only two candidates, people know who they will vote for and most of them do not need help, said Khaled who added that he is impatiently waiting for the parliament elections scheduled to be held in mid August.
“What is the symbol of Abdel Fattah Al Sisi,” an elderly voter asked Khaled who approached towards him to help and make living but the man said he does not need help and he will ask the judge inside the polling station.
Additional reporting by Maha al-Bidiny.