On December 15, 2012, Egyptians voted in a referendum on a new draft constitution. This first round of the referendum saw voting in ten governorates, which account for approximately 50 percent of all registered voters. The context in which the referendum occurred was marred by several factors however. The referendum took place amid the intimidation of citizens and media personnel and following objections from several political and civil forces about the way the assembly writing the constitution was formed, its unbalanced nature, and the fact that it was dominated by one political faction. There were also questions about the lawfulness of the constituent assembly. In addition, the vast majority of judges refused to supervise the process, protesting infringements against the judicial authorities and attempts by the executive to control it in the weeks leading up to the referendum.
Because of these conditions, human rights groups harbored reservations about the freedom and integrity of the process and its consistency with international standards guaranteeing free and fair elections. They were also concerned by the complete absence of international observers. Despite these reservations, human rights groups decided to monitor the referendum.
The Egyptian people, especially women, did their part and went to vote in unprecedented numbers, standing in lines from the early morning. The day, however, saw numerous irregularities and violations that call into question the entire process and may invalidate the results of the first round of the referendum, according to the standards enunciated by the Court of Cassation in 2005.
The most prominent of these violations were:
The lack of full judicial supervision;
Impersonation of judges at several polling stations;
Civil society monitors being denied access to the counting process;
Members of the Freedom and Justice Party being granted access to polling stations with official authorizations;
Widespread religious propaganda in mosques and the branding of those voting no as infidels;
Voting being intentionally delayed in several women's polling stations, with the effect that many were unable to vote;
A siege on the Wafd and Popular Current parties' headquarters;
Lack of phosphoric ink or faulty ink;
Closure of some polling stations before the official time, and vote-counting and declaration of results before the end of the vote;
Collective voting on behalf of some women in some polling stations;
Human rights groups call upon the Supreme Elections Commission to avoid these irregularities in the second round. In addition, due to the extensive nature of these violations, they call upon the Supreme Elections Commission to restage the first round.
The Undersigned Egyptian NGOs
The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.
The Center for Appropriate Communication Techniques for Development (ACT).
The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement.
United Group, Attorneys at Law, Legal Researchers and Human Rights Advocates.
Group for Democratic Development.