Egypt International Election Observation Mission
At the invitation of the Egyptian High Election Commission (HEC) and the Egyptian Presidential Election Commission (PEC), respectively, Democracy International conducted comprehensive international observation missions for the January 2014 Constitutional Referendum and May 2014 Presidential Elections. The HEC has also invited DI to observe the upcoming parliamentary elections, expected in late 2014 or early 2015.
DI is a signatory to the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and the Code of Conduct for International Election Observers. DI is committed to these principles, which provide, among other things, that election observers must be independent and impartial, uphold the values of democratic government, and respect the national sovereignty of the host country. In accordance with these principles, DI observed all phases of the election process, including the legal context and the political environment for the election and the procedures for the balloting and counting on the election days. Under Article 11 of the Declaration of Principles, the decision to conduct international observation of the election did not imply, and should not be perceived as, an endorsement of the credibility or legitimacy of the process.
For the constitutional referendum, DI recruited, accredited, and deployed more than 80 short-term election observers to observe the two days of voting. DI’s observers deployed in teams of two to 23 of Egypt’s 27 governorates to observe all stages of the voting process, from the opening of the polling station on the first day of voting through the counting of ballots on the second day. DI used innovative observation techniques, including a cloud-based data collection system on Google tablets that tracked map and time data and allowed flexibility and real-time data analysis not possible with paper observer forms. Following the observation mission, DI issued a preliminary statement and an observation report that found that the restrictive political climate impaired the referendum process in Egypt.
For the presidential elections, DI again deployed a large group of accredited observers, including six teams of medium-term observers who together covered 18 governorates and more than 80 short-term observers deployed to 25 governorates to observe the anticipated two days of voting. During the second day of voting, Egyptian officials decided abruptly to add a third day of voting in an effort to increase abysmal turnout in the election. DI criticized this decision as “just the latest in a series of unusual steps that have seriously harmed the credibility of the process.”
On May 29, the day after balloting was completed, DI issued a preliminary postelection statement that concluded that “continued suppression of political dissent and restrictions on fundamental freedoms have prevented free political participation and severely compromised the broader electoral environment.” It urged the new president and government to “seek opportunities to engage [their] opponents in dialogue, including those currently excluded from the political sphere” and “to embrace political inclusion and to reorient the country toward broad respect for human rights and effective, democratic institutions that are viewed across the society as legitimate.” DI issued a comprehensive final report on the presidential election process in July. The work of DI’s observation team received wide coverage in local and international media, including in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy Magazine, the Cairo Post, NPR, Al Jazeera, the Economist, the Guardian, and Reuters; many articles were reprinted in hundreds of newspapers around the world.