Voided votes as third candidate in elections
Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi - YOUM7/Hassan Mohamed
By RANY MOSTAFA

CAIRO: The number of voided votes in Egypt’s 2014 presidential election exceeded the votes of the left-wing contender Hamdeen Sabbahi.

Unofficial preliminary tallies which circulated in media outlets following the closure of polling stations on Wednesday showed that Sabbahi garnered 735,285 votes while the invalid votes reached over a million.

Spokesperson of Tamarod Movement Mohamed Nabawy said in televised statement on Thursday that Nour Party members had spoiled the votes on purpose, which would contradict their previous announcement that they would support presidential candidate Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi.

“Nour Party failed to control its supporters during the presidential elections,” Nabawy said, and stressed that Tamarod had monitored a number of the party followers invalidating their votes.

Dalia Ziada, Head of Ibn Khaldoun Center for Democratic Studies told Youm7 that the percentage of the invalid votes is “notably high” and attributed the phenomenon to the “low popularity” of both presidential candidates among several segments of the Egyptian society.

She added that Ibn Khaldoun Center of Democratic Studies have conducted an opinion poll in March that measured the voter turnout on the presidential election.

The poll showed that over 14 percent of the respondents said that they planned to invalidate their votes.

Prominent politician and activist George Ishak also told Youm7 that the high percentage of void votes reflects the discontent over the deteriorated economic situation and the high percentage of unemployment among Egyptian Youth.

“Those who boycotted of spoiled their votes tried to express their dissatisfaction with the idea of restoring the military-based rule of Egypt, said Ishak.

 “I believe most of the void votes were spoilt on purpose which reflects the dissatisfaction with certain policies including the tightened security grip and the random arrest of several revolutionary youth and activists,” said Ziada.

One of the voters headlined his ballot with the demand “Down with the protest law” while In the box to choose former military chief Abdel Fatah Al Sisi, the voter wrote “Freedom for Mahinour” in an apparent reference to Mahinour El Masry, a rights activist who was arrested last week for allegedly protesting illegally. Other voters casted their ballots for several celebrities including Arya Stark, of Game of Thrones fame, Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid player and Ronaldo, the Brazilian soccer star.

In the first round of Egypt’s 2012 presidential elections, invalid votes reached 406,720 representing 1.72 percent of the total votes casted while it represented 3.19 percent in the round-off.

In the 2014 referendum, the invalid votes reached 246,947 which represented 1.19 percent of the votes casted while it reached 1.51 percent in Egyptian expats vote that took place two weeks ago.

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