November 28, 2011 will go down in history as that day that Egyptians went out to vote in the first parliamentary elections since the fall of the Mubarak regime.
Watching the elections unfold on screens – whether computer, television or digital camera – you can see some differences from past elections, but at the same time, a lot of things are still the same. Despite some calls for boycotting or deliberately spoiling ballots, the first day of elections saw massive turnout. When I arrived at my polling station, the al-Shimaa primary school, I was stunned to see a 100-meter line outside the building. At first I thought to myself, “Egyptians, will stand for their country,” but as the day went on, I discovered an alternate explanation for the unprecedented turnout: the threat of an LE 500 fine for failing to vote.
Since I had not updated my national ID card in time for the elections, I had to vote in my old neighborhood in the Basateen area, an impoverished area adjacent to the much wealthier community in New Maadi. As a result of this demographic mix, I saw luxury cars parked alongside Tok Tok carts, the primary mode of public transportation for low-income Egyptians, outside of the polling station.
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