Live updates: Egypt votes on the constitution

Polls open throughout Egypt at 9 am Tuesday, with observers reporting long lines of voters at some polling stations. Voters were to cast their ballot in the referendum on the new draft of the constitution.

Throughout the day, Mada Masr reporters will be providing updates on breaking news and insight from local voices. See below for a running time line on day one of the referendum.

9 pm: Polls close as police announce arrests in Cairo

Polling stations close as scheduled, at 9 pm on Tuesday, the first day of voting in the constitutional referendum. Polls are to open Wednesday at 9 am.

The High Elections Committee issued a statement denying that the vote would be extended for an additional day. Reports had said that if turnout was very high on Wednesday, the second and final day of the referendum, the vote would be extended into Thursday.

In previous elections, polls remained open after their original closing time, extended by a few hours.

Cairo police arrested 46 accused of inciting riots or obstructing the vote, state-run Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported Tuesday night.

Ten Muslim Brotherhood supporters were arrested for participating in protests and marches that were not permitted, five of whom were reportedly in possession of melee weapons, according to the same report.

Well-known activist Israa Abdel Fattah, a founding member of the April 6 Youth Movement was attacked in Sheikh Zuweid, privately owned daily Al-Watan newspaper reported. The newspaper said that security forces saved her after she was seriously attacked by a number of women with slippers.

8:30 pm: Death toll rises to 11

The death toll has risen to 11, according to a Health Ministry statement. Fatalities include three in Giza, four in Sohag, and one in Beni Suef, as a result of violence surrounding voting in the constitutional referendum and clashes across the country, as well as three deaths from natural causes in Cairo and Giza while citizens waited in line to vote.

The latest violent death was by a gunshot wound during clashes between Muslim Brotherhood protesters and the police in Giza.

Another 28 people were also injured across the country, the statement said, with cases ranging from loss of consciousness and suffocation to bone fractures and head injuries.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces spokesperson maintained the voting process is going smoothly, despite attempts by “terrorist organizations” to hinder the process after a “historic turnout,” lauding Egyptians’ participation in the referendum, as the polls drew to a close at 9 pm.

Ahmed Mohamed Ali said the people of Egypt continue to impress the rest of the world with their civilization.

He warned that threatening the lives and safety of peaceful citizens is a “red line,” which no one would be allowed to cross, regardless of how many sacrifices they make.

He maintained that such “desperate attempts to halt Egypt’s train towards the future,” would fail, and that terrorizing citizens would not work, merely because “this great people may be worried about its nation, but is never scared and does not fear anyone but God.”

8pm: Resolution and disappointment in Dokki and Sayeda Zeinab

In Dokki, a family headed to the polls together. A married couple, their grandmother and their aunt had all voted for Mohamed Morsi in both rounds of the presidential elections. Today, they are voting “yes,” to a constitution drafted by the government that overthrew him.

The couple, Arabi Attia and Mervat Shehata, thought Morsi would eradicate corruption.

“But now people are tired,” one of the couple says, “unemployment is still high and corruption rampant. The country needs a strong president, hopefully.

“The Brotherhood were ruining the country and turned out to be terrorists,” he says.

Around the corner, a voter parks his car as he tries to convince the parking attendant to vote.

Abdel Aziz al-Sherif says he also voted for Morsi, thinking that “someone who has been oppressed won’t oppress others.”

He tried to talk Karim, the parking attendant, into voting, saying, “We live in a free country and you shouldn’t let anyone take your voice.”

Sherif says his daughter was against voting in the referendum because “she was brainwashed by the Brotherhood and the Salafis,” but that he later talked her into voting too.

Sherif believes that Sisi is the only one can run the country, but is worried that he will not nominate himself for president.

“When this constitution passes, the streets will be filled with people calling on him to be president,” he predicts.

However, his argument wasn’t strong enough for Karim, who still says he will not vote in this referendum, nor has he voted in any other election over the past three years.

“Nothing seemed worth the effort; if something seemed worth it I would vote,” he says. “I don’t trust anyone, look at Morsi, he seemed okay and look how he turned out.”

Other voters also place their hope in Sisi’s candidacy. Shahenda Hisham, a young associate lawyer, says she disagrees with those who think that a military president would be authoritarian.

“We need a strong man, while that doesn’t necessarily mean an army man, right now I don’t see anyone except Sisi,” she says.

In Sayeda Zeinab, among the sea of “yes” voters were a few who opted to vote against the charter.

Ahmed Anwar, 21, says he is voting “no” because he believes the Muslim Brotherhood youth have been discriminated against, killed and abused by the current interim government.

“I am not with the Brotherhood leaders, but I see that Sisi is no different with this constitution. There are some improved articles, such as those regulating healthcare, concerning the president’s power and so on, but it is not enough,” he says.

Mohammed Magdy, a 30-year-old construction worker, says he suffered from corruption under Mubarak. He believes that there was more freedom under Morsi, and says, while it was not enough, the situation was better than it is now.

“We can’t freely run a “no” campaign and this is not a legitimate voting process. For this reason I say “no” because it is all we have. We see girls getting beaten at Al-Azhar University, and the same regime has been ruling for the past few years. But we have a voice and so I say ‘no,’” he says.

Other voters chose to boycott the process altogether.

Mohamed Ezzeldin, a 40-year-old gas station attendant in Sayeda Zeinab says he is not voting, suggesting the result has already been decided.

“First the Brotherhood decided for us, now the army. My vote doesn’t matter and I have work to do,” he said.

Ali Soleiman, 21, a student in Sayeda Zeinab, says he is boycotting and considers the whole process invalid.

“People who want to vote ‘no’ have not been able to and have been arrested. It has been manipulated by the media and the government for their own interests. I also voted ‘no’ in the last two constitutions for the same reasons, but this time I just see no point at all. We were told the first time that voting ‘yes’ meant stability and was for the January 25 revolution. The second time it was to enter heaven and for stability, and now it is again for stability and security. I also say ‘no’ because of Sisi and his group. He said he fights terrorism, and he doesn’t. He says it’s for stability and there is no stability. I also see there are many improved articles but they are not enough to make me vote ‘yes’ when the process is illegitimate.”

7:30 pm: Suez Canal cities vote as the 3rd Army deploys in high numbers

Most of the news from the Suez Canal cities concerns security.

At the northern entrance of the Suez Canal in Port Said, police forces and controlroom hotlines reportedly received nearly 20 calls and notices from concerned citizens regarding the presence of suspected explosive devices and car bombs outside polling stations, privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported. Upon investigation, however, police forces said they didn’t find any explosives.

Elsewhere, in the city of Suez, security forces reportedly detained a 21-year-old woman as she was attempting to enter the Ashtoum al-Gameel School polling station. Suspicious police forces stopped and searched her clothing, to find a pocket knife tucked into her garments. The woman is being held pending investigations.

At the other end of the canal in Suez, steelworker Amr Youssef says he isn’t interested in voting for the new constitution.

“I had voted ‘yes’ in the referendum for the 2012 Constitution, and although it passed, it was suspended less than a year later. I feel that my vote doesn’t count or matter to the ruling authorities, that’s why I’m not voting this time around,” he says.

In the city itself, a higher turnout than in rural areas was reported, especially amongst women.

Major General Osama Askar, commander of the Third Army, called on all citizens in the Suez Governorate to participate in the referendum on the draft constitution today, MENA reported.

The Third Army was deployed in the Red Sea and South Sinai Governorates in addition to the canal zone.

Army troops and police were also deployed along main streets and squares to safeguard the voting process, while military helicopters flew over these governorates to monitor the process.

Polling stations in the Suez Governorate reported a mediocre turnout rate on the first day of the referendum. Women appeared to be participating in greater numbers than men.

7 pm: Death toll rises to 9

Two more died in the Kerdassa area of Cairo during clashes with security forces, bringing the death toll to nine on the first day of the constitutional referendum, state-owned Al-Ahram reported.

The newspaper said that 14 people were also injured in the clashes, as protesters attempted to deter the voting process.

5:30 pm: Women take to the polls 

Women turned out in strong numbers on day one of referendum voting Tuesday, and were zealously celebrating after casting their ballots.

Mada Masr reporters around Cairo and Giza, as well as in Alexandria and Mansoura, saw countless female voters dancing in the streets to the pro-army song “Tisslam al-Ayadi” (Bless Your Hands) and ululating around polling stations.

Reporters, eyewitnesses and vote monitors reported a visibly higher turnout of female voters than during previous polls.

In Manial, former actress and belly dancer Zizi Moustafa says, “This marks the beginning of a new Egypt.”

While earlier in the day the flow of voters was meager, Moustafa was sure numbers would increase as the day progressed. “Last time, every one was off work on the referendum days. Today, those showing up at the stations are driven by a real love for their country,” she says.

One elderly woman, dressed in red, black and white was seen walking around Manial singing to the army and waving an Egyptian flag at every military officer she passed.

At a Heliopolis polling station, Sofia Lotfy, a 60-year-old housewife holding a flag, says, “I am voting because I have hope. God will not leave us. I have been encouraging everyone to vote in my family.”

Even though she hasn’t read the constitution, she says she trusts those who wrote it enough to go down and participate in the referendum and endorse the draft.

“This country needs someone strong, but also someone who loves Egyptians,” she says, adding, “When I see policemen getting hurt in protests, I feel bad that they are not better armed.

“When the Brothers [members of the Muslim Brotherhood] took over, I was worried. But, I said, maybe the prisons they were in for years taught them to be human. I was wrong.”

Many of those voting expressed similar sentiments against the Brotherhood, and were highly in favor of the army.

“This country needs someone strong but also someone who loves us. Maybe an iron fist doesn’t matter, but love does.”

Closer to the heart of central Cairo in Garden City, Soraya Mansour, 50, says she voted “yes” for Egypt. “I read parts of the constitution, not all of it, and it contains better rights for women and workers.

“I never voted for Morsi of course, and I would never vote for the Brotherhood. We all want the country to get moving,” she says.

Amina Ahmed, 34, echoed similar sentiments, “I vote ‘yes’ because I am a woman and I see better rights for women. I am also a citizen of Egypt, and it is our duty as citizens to vote. People have died for this right. I just hope for a better Egypt.”

Zeinab al-Sayed, a 21-year-old student at Helwan University, was voting in the Basateen area. She says, “No one would dare say they were voting ‘no’, even if they were. People in my line had posters of Sisi.”

She would not say how she had voted.

5 pm: Security and celebrations in Alexandria

Polling stations in the Asafra neighborhood of Alexandria were heavily guarded, mostly by military personnel. Earlier in the day, eyewitnesses said military police arrested several young protesters who had attempted to storm a polling station.

Afterwards voting resumed as normal.

Other military personnel erected barricades in front of the polling stations. A poster on one read, “The people, military and police are one hand,” with a quote from Head of the Armed Forces Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, “Egypt is the mother of the world, and it will become as big as the world.”

Some polling stations had snipers posted on the roof.

At Sidi Bishr Mosque, where Muslim Brotherhood protesters have often gathered in the past, security forces were also deployed.

Essam, a local shopkeeper, proudly pointed at the polling station, where he said he stood for hours earlier in the morning to vote for the constitution.

“Today is a day of celebration. There was a huge number of people here this morning. It was like a battle to be able to vote. People are happy, they’re celebrating,” he says, explaining that he hopes the passing of this constitution will end violence and sabotage and be the start of a new era of stability.

Not far away, a microbus drove by honking its horn, and several women responded by cheering and clapping. A family of six walked past as “Tisslam al-Ayadi” blasted from the youngest girl’s phone.

4:30 pm: Death toll rises on day one of referendum voting

At least seven people died as sporadic clashes broke out in several governorates on the first day of the constitutional referendum, state-run Al-Ahram reported.

Two died of natural causes while voting; one at a polling station in Beni Suef and another in Zamalek, according to Al-Ahram.

Earlier, the Health Ministry reported that an elderly man died of a heart attack while voting in the Ain Seera district of Cairo, but this was not included in Al-Ahram’s report.

The state-owned paper also said one man was killed by gunshot in the Kerdassa area of Cairo during clashes with security forces.

Meanwhile, the death toll from clashes in Sohag between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and security forces rose to four, Al-Ahram reported.

Earlier in the day, Andrew Azer, a Sohag-based activist and member of the Dostour Party, reported that clashes broke out in front of the Moalimeen Hospital in the city center.

The Interior Ministry said that Brotherhood “elements” fired gunshots from the rooftops of buildings on a main commercial street in Sohag, targeting pedestrians on their way to polling stations, according to MENA. Nine were injured as a result, of which two were security personnel.

Injuries were reported throughout the country, and the Health Ministry said a number of people were admitted to hospitals in Alexandria, Beni Suef, Monufiya, Qena, Minya, Daqahlia, Gharbiya, Beheira and Kafr al-Sheikh.

4 pm: Minor irregularities reported by operation rooms

Reports issued sporadically by different operations rooms monitoring the referendum indicate smooth sailing throughout the day in most polling stations across the country, save for a few irregularities.

In Sohag, several people were arrested as they tried to post material calling for a “no” vote on the draft constitution, according to a report by the Revolutionary Bloc.

In villages in Minya, including Delga and Abu Ahmed, the Bloc said the Muslim Brotherhood has organized seminars to discuss the constitution on the very day of the referendum, which raises questions and leads the Bloc to believe that these seminars are aimed at deterring voters from reaching their polling stations and may affect voter turnout.

Over 67,000 civil society organizations submitted requests to gain access to polling stations, but only 17,000 received permits to observe the process, the report said.

A report issued by the operation room of the Ibn Khaldoun Center also observed some irregularities in Minya, where a polling station was closed after verbal altercations between its head and some of the voters.

In Daqahliya, a judge refused to allow the center’s observers to enter the polling station, despite them having permits. Unstamped ballots were also reported, as well as attempts to sway voters to vote “yes.”

A common observation reported by operations rooms is the blasting of nationalistic songs at polling stations, in particular the popular  pro-army song “Tisslam al-Ayadi.” 

In its report, the Conference Party, formerly headed by Amr Moussa, also observed some errors, such as in a polling station in Giza where ballots were not stamped. The judge also prevented local civil society members from observing the process and allowed only international members to enter.

In one polling station in Qena, the voter registry was missing which led most of the voters to leave without voting. Observers were also prevented from entering polling stations in Menufiya, despite having the required permits, the report said.

In the Duweiqa area in Cairo, the Armed Forces arrested a man who allegedly drove through the voters’ queues on his motorbike.

In Fayoum, police forces dispersed two marches organized by the Muslim Brotherhood and arrested some of the protesters, the report said.

In Beni Suef, protesters set fire to an army tank, which was later put out by residents. 

Meanwhile, the Administrative Prosecution Club’s operations rooms said it received complaints that polling stations for people voting outside their constituencies were overcrowded, which slowed the voting process. The Club called for more polling stations to be set up for these voters.

3:30 pm: Reports of five people killed in day one of voting

Three people were killed in Sohag during a shoot-out between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and security forces in front of Moalimeen Hospital in the city center, according to Andrew Azer, a Sohag-based activist and member of the Dostour Party.

Azer wrote on his Twitter account that clashes had broken out between Brotherhood protesters and security forces in the area.

Earlier, the Health Ministry reported that an elderly man died of a heart attack while he was voting in the Ain Seera district in Cairo.

The ministry denied earlier reports of a death in Beni Suef, although the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper earlier reported that a man was killed in clashes between protesters and the police. The Salafi Nour Party’s central control room had confirmed reports of the death.

Another death was reported by Al-Balad News website, saying said that a passerby was shot during clashes between Brotherhood protesters and the police near a polling station in Mansoureya, Giza. The Heath Ministry has not confirmed the death.

2 pm: Zamalek voters look to the media

Voters joining a short queue at a Zamalek polling station were pushed towards a “yes” vote by media coverage they trusted, some told Mada Masr. They say they believe that a new constitution will enable the country to move on, to go beyond the current period of unrest. 

Nour al-Negawy says that the media’s coverage encouraged him to vote yes.

“As I can see through media outlets and what I read in newspapers, it is a much better constitution,” says Nour al-Negawy, a 34-year-old makeup artist. “We do what we can and we played our part by voting yes.”

Fatma al-Shanqeery, 78, said that one presenter in particular convinced her to vote yes.

”I voted yes because of what I heard of the constitution in media, on CBC, Lamees al-Hadidi’s show. Everything is better,” she says.

Voters at the Zamalek polling station also were particularly interested in stability. One voter had voted yes on all earlier amended constitutions, for the sake of going forward from the upheaval that has rocked Egypt for the past three years.

“For Tantawi’s constitution, we said yes; for Morsi’s constitution, we said yes for stability; and now we say yes for June 30, and for stability and security,” says Intisar Abdel Hamid, a 56-year-old housewife. “People are tired, we want to move on.”

Negawy echoed that sentiment. “We want stability and a better Egypt, with a better economy, tourism and so on,” he says.

Queues were short in Zamalek, as well as in another upscale neighborhood, Maadi, where voters were outnumbered by the intense police and military deployment ahead of the vote. In Maadi, women on opposite sides of the block competed to see who could perform the loudest ululations and songs.

In Zamalek, voters told Mada Masr that lines were longer in the morning. As voters passed by security forces to enter a polling station, a pro-army song, “Teslam al-Ayadi,” which has been ubiquitous since the military ousted former President Mohamed Morsi in July, could be heard.

1 pm: Sporadic clashes break out near polling stations

Clashes broke out between Muslim Brotherhood protesters on one side and the police and citizens on the other at Haram and Talbeyya areas in Giza, MENA reported. The protest blocked Haram and Faisal streets with burning tires, but was dispersed when security used tear gas on the demonstrators. Similar attempts to block roads were reported in Minya.

Meanwhile, five masked men on motorcycles who reportedly belong to the Muslim Brotherhood blocked the Cairo-Assiut highway. Akhbar Masr news website said the men set a civilian car on fire to “terrorize citizens”. A police source told the website that the “terrorists’ houses” were later raided by the police.

One man was reportedly killed in Beni Suef on the first day of voting in the constitutional referendum.

Mahmoud Gomaa, 25, died of a gunshot wound during clashes between a Muslim Brotherhood march and police and army forces securing a polling station in Beni Suef, according to the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper.

Earlier on Tuesday, the privately owned ONA news agency reported that the opening of 13 polling stations was delayed in Beni Suef.

During a television interview, Beni Suef Governor Magdi al-Betiti praised the high turnout and asked citizens to vote for a constitution that will “clear Egypt of all residues.” He added that it will “give unprecedented rights to women, and allow supervision over executive state bodies.”

The governor had earlier excluded 144 government staff from supervising the referendum due to their affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, including one employee who was arrested during one of the group’s protests last Friday. The Brotherhood was designated a terrorist organization by Egypt’s Cabinet on December 25.

Police forces reportedly managed to stop attempts by dozens of Muslim Brotherhood members to block roads leading to a polling station in the Giza neighborhood of Nahya, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Photos of burning tires reportedly blocking Abbas al-Aqad Street in Nasr City appeared on social media websites Twitter and Facebook, while Al Balad News website reported the dispersal of a Brotherhood march in Nasr City.

Al Balad also said police forces used tear gas to disperse 150 Muslim Brotherhood supporters who had blocked the road in the Ain Shams neighborhood in an attempt to stop voters from reaching their polling stations.

The Administrative Prosecution Authority said that earlier Tuesday, Brotherhood supporters attempted to block the Hihya-Zagazig road but were stopped by security forces, according to a statement. There were also unsuccessful attempts to disrupt voting procedures at several polling stations in Helwan, Beni Suef and Fayoum, the statement read.

More than 3,000 members of the authority were deployed to oversee procedures at polling stations around the country. Hours before voting on the draft constitution began on Tuesday, a large number of authority members were called in to fill a gap in supervising polling stations in Aswan, Luxor, Qena, Minya, Sharqiya and Daqahliya.

A group of Muslim Brotherhood protesters demonstrated outside the headquarters of the privately owned Al-Watan newspaper, targeting the building with fireworks and repeating chants against media, politicians, and army leadership, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, in Fayoum, unidentified men fired gunshots in the air on the road behind the Evangelical Church of St. Michael, with no reports of injuries, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported. Eyewitnesses said the shots were not fired at the church.

12 pm: In Dar el-Salam some vote, while others sit it out

Cairo’s Dar el-Salam district was covered with pro-Sisi posters long before all the “yes” campaigning began. On referendum day, groups of mostly women and some older men were in the streets singing and discussing Sisi’s “heroic nature” and what he needs to do to carry the country forward.

A tour of six schools by a Mada Masr reporter showed that the turnout at female voting stations was about double that of the men’s, if not more. Overall, the crowd was visibly older than during previous elections.

All stations there reportedly opened on time, at 9 am, when voting began Tuesday. Voters did not report any violations so far.

At Omar Ibn Khattab and Ahmed Orabi elementary schools, about 200 women lined up to vote, many waving Egyptian flags and holding Sisi posters. Some were singing and chanting “Rise up Egyptians. Egypt is more important. Terrorism must be stopped.”

At one men’s polling station, Khairy Abdel Nabi, a 69-year-old manager at Sidnawy, says he is voting “yes” because there is no other option.

“It’s a vote between moving forward and backtracking,” he says, adding that “anybody who votes for the latter cannot be Egyptian.” As he spoke, two older men and an 18-year-old man gathered around and started praising Sisi.

The overall turnout at the school was lower than at the women’s polling station, and no flags or posters could be seen.

The school itself was guarded with sandbags and a group of armed soldiers.

Abdel Nabi says that the issues he has with the draft constitution are “negligible,” while other say they have no problems to mention with the draft.

At Dar el-Salam elementary school, a smaller group of women waved peace signs as a television camera crew filmed.

Saber Abdallah, 37, says he is voting in a country that he feels isn’t his. He is only voting in the hope that by the time his children are older they will feel differently.

“We want to start living, which means all I can do is vote yes and pray it’s the right thing. I voted for Morsi after [presidential hopeful] Hamdeen [Sabbahi] didn’t make it to the runoffs, and it was the biggest mistake of my life,” he says, adding that he has no faith in Sisi, “just God.”

At a nearby cafe, Karim Mohamed Kamel, 20, says he doesn’t vote anymore and hasn’t voted since the first round of presidential elections.

“We all know what the outcome will be, so why waste my time in line? Even if everyone votes no, it’ll still be yes,” he says.

While he’s not opposed to a “yes” vote, and stresses that he’s not of affiliated with the Brotherhood, he sees no need to add his voice.

He did not bother to read the draft constitution, nor did a group of young men sitting with him. When asked for the main reason why they weren’t voting, all five claimed they believed the outcome was already determined and that their voice makes no difference.

Only one of them expressed a reservation about “voting for the army,” as he called it.

Ahmed Sharaf, 20, says, “When anyone [other than the MB] wants to protest against the army for whatever reason, and there’s bound to be groups of people who will, the response will be just as violent and extreme and we’ll be caught in the same mess again.”

At a coffee shop called Fakahany, five young men were gathered around a pool table as two of them took turns playing. Only one said he was boycotting the referendum, but quickly stressed that he was not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sherif al-Minyawi, 20, says, “It’s not the right time to be asking people to pay attention to or make a decision on something as important as the constitution, even if it can be changed later.”

“This is a step the country should be taking together, not when the people are this divided,” he adds. “It’s one thing to vote on different options, but it’s something else entirely when you have two sides pitted so strongly against each other.”

In his view, the people voting today are not really voting on the new draft of the constitution. As he says, they are stuck in a mindset of “Morsi versus Sisi, and who is a terrorist or who is a traitor.”

11 am: Sisi visits polling station, Beblawi and ministers vote

Defense Minister Colonel General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi surveyed security measures for the referendum early Tuesday, visiting a women’s polling station at a school in Heliopolis.

Women at the polling station chanted in support of Sisi, reported MENA.

Sisi met earlier with military officials in the Defense Ministry’s operations room in the presence of military Chief of Staff General Sedky Sobhy, MENA reported. He reiterated that stringent measures would be taken against anyone attempting to create chaos or disrupt the voting process.

But, even before the polls opened, a bomb exploded near the North Giza Court on Sudan Street in Imbaba district, according to the Interior Ministry. The 7.30 am blast caused damage to the façade of the courthouse, but resulted in no deaths or injuries. Security forces are currently investigating the scene, the ministry said.

Interim President Adly Mansour cast his ballot early Tuesday at a polling station in Heliopolis, while Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi voted in Almaza, queuing up in advance, even though other voters told him he could cut the line, MENA reported.

After voting, Beblawi told reporters that he expects a high turnout as Egyptians vote to “confirm that their revolution is on the right path.” He says that citizens should not be afraid to go down and vote, given the heightened security measures taken by the ministries of interior and defense.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy and Vice Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa Eddin both cast their ballots in Zamalek.

Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim visited polling stations in Maadi, Zamalek, and Agouza to survey security measures there, according to MENA.

As voting began at 9 am on Tuesday, Mada Masr reporters saw lines filling up in Heliopolis, with some voters carrying the Egyptian flag. At one polling station, the song “Tisslam al-Ayady” (Bless Your Hands) played in the background.

Yehia al-Gindy, a 32-year-old pharmacist, told Mada Masr that, while he “isn’t particularly fond of Sisi, a ‘no’ vote would be redundant.”

“You might as well stay home if you’re going down to vote no,” he says, hoping that the referendum will bring back some steadiness to government operations.

In the past year, he and others from the neighborhood wrote to the government about the escalating trash problem in Dar el-Salam and got no reply. “The sooner we get back on track, the sooner there’ll be someone in office to send letters to and a government that, in theory, should respond to our problems,” he says.

He adds that he does not care whether the new government is headed by Sisi or not, “as long as its not the Brotherhood — they’ve already had their chance.”

9 am Egyptians go to the polls: 

The draft was put together by two committees, one of 10 legal experts and one of 50 public figures and officials. It followed the ouster of President and Brotherhood-affiliate Mohamed Morsi on July 3 and the appointment of a pro-military government.

The referendum is held in accordance with the July 8 Constitutional Declaration that was announced by interim President Adly Mansour, who was appointed by the military in the aftermath of Morsi’s ouster.

The passing of this draft must be followed within 30 to 90 days by either a presidential or a parliamentary election.

According to the High Elections Commission, almost 53 million voters are registered to cast their ballots in some 30,000 polling stations throughout the country. There is no legal threshold for participation in the elections.

The voting is set to continue until 9 pm and to resume again on Wednesday, January 15.

Results, according to the commission, are expected within 72 hours after the closure of polling stations. The draft would pass with a 50 + one majority of “yes” voters.

The polls in numbers:
53 million registered voters
30,000 polling stations across the nation
50 + one majority of “yes” votes would pass the constitution
Two days of voting
30 to 90 days until the next elections unfold