Abu Dhabi: Minor hitches, then it gets going

ABU DHABI — A number of voters had to go back from Al Jazira Sports Club voting centre in the Capital to collect their national ID cards, which they had left in their cars or at home, while one person was denied voting due to lack of documents required for the voting.

By Anwar Ahmad

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Published: Sun 25 Sep 2011, 9:39 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:57 AM

In Al Ain, the voting was delayed by two hours in the morning due to a technical glitch. The voting started at 10am and the centre witnessed a good turnout.

Most voters who turned up at Al Jazira Sports Club in the Capital, however, termed the elections as well-organised and entirely free, fair and transparent.

The United Arab Emirates has been progressively treading the path towards the formation of full democracy. Emirati residents excercised their right of franchise on Saturday for the second elections in the country to elect their representatives for the Federal National Council.

Voters’ turnout was low as the centre opened its gates early in the morning, but gradually the number of voters began to increase.

A large number of women wearing full face veil turned up at the centre to cast their votes. Most arrived in groups of four to five persons, while some arrived with their children.

Exclusively designed polling booths were placed in the large sports hall at the Club on the ground floor which could be clearly viewed from the first floor as all media, including hopeful FNC candidates, were accommodated there.

Every voter who came back after casting his/her vote appreciated the arrangements, cooperation and transparency in the polling process.

Talking to Khaleej Times, Sultan bin Jwied, Head of the election centre at Al Jazira Sports Club, said, there were 50 polling terminals all equipped with electronic voting machines including two terminals specially designed for people with special needs.

“Voter-turnout was slow in the beginning but later it was good. We have maintained transparency and facilitated voters with all kind of pre-voting training for a smooth voting process,” said Jwied. “The entire voting process takes hardly five to seven minutes to vote after a voter enters the venue,” Jwied said.

Voter’s voice

Voters were entitled to vote for four candidates of their choice. While most of the people said they voted for four candidates, a few selected only three.

Mabkhout Hassan Al Saiery from Abu Dhabi who cast his vote at the club said the voting process was entirely transparent and free from any difficulty as the NEC staff assisted voters. “I expect the candidates to implement his/her election manifesto if they win the election and work for federal development programmes of the country. I voted at 8.10am and am now watching the electoral process. I gave my vote for two persons,” said Al Saiery.

Awad Al Zaabi exercised her right of francise for three candidates and hoped that they would represent women in the FNC and focus on social and family affairs of women in the country.

“We want further development in all sectors of the country and I have voted today on the same ground,” said Haifa Saeed.

“The youth are the future of the country,” said Jasim Yaqoob Al Mansouri who had forgotten his national ID card in the car. “I will bring that and cast my vote just now. I found all arrangements appreciative,” he said.

If the elected candidates implement their election programmes which they publicised, it would benefit the UAE society,” said Saeed Al Zaabi said after casting his vote. “I urge them to focus more on Emiratisation, youth and their affairs, women’s role in society and peace in the country.”

Abdullah Maktoum Al Qubaisi from Abu Dhabi said: “I balloted for four persons on the grounds that the elected candidates would focus on the education sector, health, Emiratisation and youth education in particular.”

Arrangements impress voters

Nissar Hoath

ABU DHABI — The polling for the second Federal National Council (FNC) elections began on a smooth but energetic atmosphere at four locations in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The main polling centre with 105 electronic polling machines was set up at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) where more than 200 young officers were deployed to assist voters. The other centre in the Capital was at Al Jazira Sports Club.

In Al Ain, it was at the Conference Hall in Al Qubaisi and in Al Gharbia, at Medinat Zayed Wedding Hall.

The National Election Committee (NEC), the Ministry of Interior and the Abu Dhabi Police had made special and foolproof security arrangements at and around the centres. They also included control of traffic around the venue and parking areas.

The polling at the centres, except Al Ain, began sharp at 8am with a low turnout. However, within 45 minutes the number of voters started increasing, and by 9.50am the crowd of voters, including candidates, had grown with a greater number of women voters turning up. As the late afternoon approached the number multiplied until the polling was over in the evening.

“It is a good and smooth system to cast your vote. There were no complications in using the computerised system to vote. In fact the pre-election training to familiarise ourselves to the system did work very well,” said Mohammed Al Fahim, a voter from Abu Dhabi city.

The NEC had also made at the centres special seating arrangements for candidates, who were among the first to come to observe the process. They were accompanied by their representatives.

At ADNEC, 45 terminals were exclusively for women voters and 60 for men with two huge transparent boxes kept in the centre of the hall for the printed ballot papers. Some of the voters were people with special needs who came in wheelchairs assisted and escorted by young officers.

The other arrangements included a spacious media centre next to the polling hall. Voters had to enter the hall from one point and exit through another. The two polling centres in the Capital were also visited by senior government officials and Shaikhs.

Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Federal National Council Affairs and Chairman of the NEC, arrived at the ADNEC centre at 8.45am for inspection. He also interacted with voters and candidates and asked if they had any complaints. On the sidelines of the election, employees of the Ministry of State for Federal National Council Affairs carried out a survey about the proceedings and importance of the elections.

A victory for all, declare candidates

It will be a victory for all, no matter who wins, said Abu Dhabi candidates running for the second Federal National Council (FNC) elections.

Talking to Khaleej Times after casting their votes at the ADNEC polling centre on Saturday, a number of candidates in Abu Dhabi showed sportsmanspirit saying they will have no regret if they failed to secure seats in the council. “We are all winners at the end of the day,” Mansour Al Fahim said when asked about his expectations of the results.

However, he said he was happy with his campaign with a good response from well-wishers.

Al Fahim said: “The campaign went very well. The most important thing is that it was a good start today with a smooth process. We are really motivated with this good experience of our second elections. Hopefully, the next elections will see a greater and broader participation.”

Shabib Hamad Sultan Al Darmaki wants to see four best qualified members are sent to the council by the voters. He said: “We want to see four most qualified elected members representing the people of Abu Dhabi in the FNC. It does not matter if I lose the elections, as long as the right people are elected. However with my successful campaign, I’m optimistic.”

About his participation in the poll, 38-year-old Shabib, whose father Hamad Sultan Al Darmaki is a former FNC member, said it was his second experience.

“I contested the last elections in 2006. But this time, the experience is different. In 2006, there were only around 6,000 voters, and now we have over 47,000 in Abu Dhabi emirate alone. This is a huge difference. The way the polling started this morning, and the way it is heading to end is really encouraging. Everything has been really smooth.”


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