Refat Qomsan, Assistant Interior Minister for Administrative Affairs, stated during a seminar yesterday that around 50,650,000 citizens will be eligible to vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Qomsan also restated that every polling station will have no more than1,000 voters in an effort to keep polling station congestion at a minimum. My rough calculation of the number of registered voters form the March referendum was 44,995,034 voters, which is not an insignificant difference from the new number.
The voter registry is based off the national ID card, which everybody should have (and which have recently been updated with electronic chips) so the government shouldn’t have that hard a time getting the number right. I don’t really know of any stories of people being turned away from polling stations from the recent referendum, so the systems has seemed to work alright for now.
Diaa Rashwan, political analyst at the ACPSS, said that dividing voters according to their residential area is a major step, however, the Ministry of Interior also has to coordinate with the Ministry of Health in order to eliminate those who have passed away from the database, referring to the scheme used by the National Democratic Party in previous elections where they used dead citizens’ IDs to vote.
This is encouraging. Sharing lists of citizen data between an EMB and other parts of the government can have many administrative advantages. Often times, however, the agency in charge of the voter registry is underfunded compared to other ministries and has little clout. This makes it hard for them to get access to information that would be useful in constructing and maintaining an accurate and up-to-date voter roll. Seeing as Egypt’s new EMB is essentially controlled by the Interior Ministry, this probably won’t be an issue.
Just over 3.7 million of an estimated seven million potential voters had added their names to the roll, a member of the independent election commission, Larbi Chouikha, told AFP ahead of the close of registration at midnight (2300 GMT).
The provisional figure, which does not include an estimated 700,000 to 800,000 Tunisians of voting age abroad, represented about 52 percent of potential voters still in the country.
The commission will release official figures on Tuesday. Registration opened on July 11 and was supposed to close on August 2, but was prolonged due to a slow turnout.
The October 23 election will be for a constituent assembly charged with drawing up a new constitution to replace that of the former dictatorial regime.
This is a pretty amazing, especially when you consider how many Tunisians expressed an intent to vote in initial surveys. Probably partly due to response bias in those polls, but also to the disorganized nature of the interim government in managing elections.