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Egyptians Vote on Final Day of Historic Presidential Election

  • Elizabeth Arrott

An Egyptian election worker helps a disabled woman in a wheelchair to vote at a polling station during the second day of the presidential runoff in Cairo, June 17, 2012.

An Egyptian election worker helps a disabled woman in a wheelchair to vote at a polling station during the second day of the presidential runoff in Cairo, June 17, 2012.

CAIRO - Egyptians are at the polls for the second and final day of a run-off presidential election to choose a successor to Hosni Mubarak, ousted in a revolution last year. But, the choice has left some wondering what the revolution was all about.

State media have been urging more voters to take part in what is being hailed as the nation's first free presidential election. But disappointment at the choices in the run-off stage has been palpable at the polls.

Voter Safinaz Hassan cast her ballot in Cairo with her two daughters. She would not reveal who she preferred, though her lack of enthusiasm about both was clear.

"There's nothing but these two," she said, referring to former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq and the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi. "May God choose the most capable one."

Resignation is mixed with concern about rising tensions in the country following the court-ordered dissolution of the Islamist-led lower house of parliament and the apparent appropriation of all legislative powers, including oversight of the writing of a new constitution, by Egypt's ruling military council. The moves have sparked outrage among some of those who helped topple the Mubarak government, and who allege the military is in the final stages of implementing a "soft coup."

Man-in-the-street video by Davin Hutchins and Stephanie Figgins:


The claims and counterclaims have voters like Tayssir Hussein el-Qaleie on edge.

She wishes the rhetoric leading up to the election had not happened as it will cause the nation, she says, to flare up. She adds, "it was unnecessary."

Voting has proceeded for the most part quietly, although there have been reports of heavy-handed security tactics directed at some people observing the vote. One Egyptian monitor complained of problems when Shafiq, a former Air Force commander who enjoys the support of many in the military, went to vote Saturday.

He explains how security guards stopped people from voting when Shafiq came to cast his ballot. He says when he complained about being blocked from entering, police ignored him.

But an official for the Morsi campaign, which claims its candidate had a substantial lead after the first day of voting, said initial indications are that the vote is proceeding fairly.

Ahmed Abdel Aati said the most important guarantee of a free election is a high voter turnout.

But the choice between an Islamist or a member of the old government has proven unpalatable to many. In the first round, less than half of registered voters took part, and of them, only a quarter chose either Morsi or Shafiq. Some argue a victory by either represents a reversal of the gains of the revolution last year. They have been urging either a boycott, or a nullification of ballots.

Yet, in this heavily Islamic country with a long tradition of looking up to its military, a curious combination can be found.

At a polling station along the Nile corniche in Cairo, a middle aged women is nearly in tears as she implores God to be on Egypt's side.

Soad Nasr prays that God improves the country - for God to make Egypt better.

She is voting for Shafiq.

Check out our team and crowdsourced coverage of the poll on Storify:

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