Voting in the first phase of the parliamentary elections kicked off on Sunday, Oct 17, 2015. ASWAT MASRIYA/ Asmaa Gamal
CAIRO, Oct. 21 (Aswat Masriya) - The turnout rate in the first phase of Egypt's House of Representatives elections was 26.56 percent with 7,278,594 Egyptians casting their votes, the Supreme Elections Commission (SEC) said on Wednesday.
The total number of eligible voters in the first of two phases in the elections is over 27.4 million.
Ayman Abbas, the head of SEC told a press conference aired live on state television, that 6,584,128 (over 90 percent) of the ballots were valid, while 694,466 votes were invalid.
Only four candidates won majority contesting individual seats, while the rest of 2,548 candidates will have to contest in the run-offs.
Cairo's twin city Giza had the lowest participation rate among all 14 provinces included in the first phase of voting, with 21 percent of its voters going to the polls. Meanwhile, the south western province of New Valley had the highest turnout, standing at 37 percent.
Abbas had announced on Tuesday that only 30,531 Egyptians voted abroad in the first phase, equaling less than 5 percent of eligible voters abroad.
The low turnout in the elections has been noted by the press, both locally and internationally.
Earlier on Wednesday, the African Union observation mission said preliminary findings show that there were no barriers to affect the integrity of the elections, while the Arab League mission said it did not identify any violations.
The elections represent the final step in Egypt's "roadmap to democracy", announced by then-Defence Minister Sisi in July 2013, following the military ouster of President Mohamed Mursi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, which was designated a "terrorist organization" in December 2013.
The group, whose political arm the Freedom and Justice Party, swept the 2012 parliamentary polls where the turnout rate was about 55 percent, but has called for a boycott of the 2015 elections.
The ongoing elections mark the first electoral poll held in the absence of the Muslim Brotherhood in 30 years.
With low participation rates in the poll, political parties are reconsidering their back-up plans ahead of the second phase of voting which is slated for Nov. 21-23.
There are 87 organisations with the approval to observe the race, including six international organisations, and SEC has granted permits to over 17,000 local observers and over 700 international ones.