In Cairo and the port city of Alexandria, voter turnout appeared to be much lower than the first round. Where polling stations opened promptly at 8 a.m. last time, election workers on Saturday appeared more lax about setting up stations. At one station in northern Cairos Shubhra neighborhood, poll workers only checked the identity of women in niqab after they dropped their ballots in the box. At another in the southeastern Dar Salaam neighborhood, a Shafik delegate, ostensibly there to monitor the process, instead took part in it, guiding voters to dip their finger in purple ink to confirm they voted.
Some violations were more serious. The Shehab Center for Human Rights, an organization based in Alexandria, alleged that Shafik supporters in several polling stations used what is locally known as the rotating ballot a pre-filled ballot paper handed to voters outside of the polling station. A popular tactic under the Mubarak regime, it typically promises voters money if they deposit the pre-filled ballot in the ballot box and return their blank ballot back to the partisans outside the polling place.
Judge Farouk Sultan, who heads the election commission, said in a press conference that the commission had discovered 1,000 pre-marked ballots.
Pro-revolutionary parties grudgingly told their supporters to vote for Morsi. But millions of voters who wanted change became their own strategists in front of a ballot. Some who had voted for the revolutionary favorite Hamdeen Sabahi, who captured more than 4 million votes in the first round, said they decided to vote for Shafik because if he did a bad job, it would galvanize people to go back to the streets to protest. Stopping a seemingly power-hungry Muslim Brotherhood was much harder, they said.
Still others said that Egypt now needed a leader guided by Islam to end its economic and security problems. Either way, neither was a ringing endorsement of the candidates.
I dont trust the Muslim Brotherhood anymore. It is very unfortunate that Morsi and Shafik are the only options now, said Ahmed Karim, a 45 year-old government employee who once handed out posters of Sabahi in his western Alexandria neighborhood. This time, he voted for Shafik.
Yasser Gouda, 31, a print house worker in the largely Christian Cairo neighborhood of Shubra, said he voted for Shafik because he believed that even though Shafik had served under Mubarak, he couldnt govern the same way in post-uprising Egypt.
He wont be able to govern like Hosni Mubarak did. If he does, he will know what his destiny is. It will be just like Hosnis, Gouda said.
Shubra, where many Christians fear living under the Brotherhood, was one of the few places where election judges reported higher turnout.
Not all voters were dismayed. In the upper class neighborhood of Maadi, many voters said they welcomed both the dissolving of parliament and a potential President Shafik. The removal of Mubarak was enough change, they said, and only a known quantity like Shafik could bring about real reform.
Im happy that they dissolved Parliament. The Brotherhood had too much power, Ragwa Ahmed Mohammed, 23, a secretary at a petrol company. I am not with the revolutionaries at all. There has been enough change.
Special correspondents Mohannad Sabry in Alexandria, Egypt, and Amina Ismail in Cairo contributed to this report.