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‘Abstain vote’ available as Federal National Council polling begins in UAE

Afkar Abdullah /Sharjah
Filed on October 1, 2019 | Last updated on October 1, 2019 at 11.55 pm
NEC, National Elections Committee, Emiratis, ballots, Federal National Council
SMART BALLOTS: For most Emiratis who came to the polling stations on Tuesday, October 1, voting only took a minute.- Photos by Ryan Lim and M. Sajjad

With main election day slated for October 5, voters have a few more days to decide which candidates deserve a seat at the FNC.

 The National Elections Committee (NEC) has called on Emiratis to cast their ballots - even if it meant going for an 'abstain' vote.

Early voting for the Federal National Council (FNC) polls started on Tuesday and shall continue until 6pm on Thursday - but a number of citizens were not 'excited' as they said they needed 'more' from the candidates.

"I am not convinced with candidates' electoral programmes, which should serve the interest of the people," said Shamma Al Ketbi, a registered voter.

Citizens Ali Ahmed Al Abdouli and Khawla Murad of the Dubai Electoral Commission, on the other hand, were looking for comprehensive platforms on education, health, employment and other systems.

For another Emirati, Fatima Al Kindi, one should think long and hard about whom to vote for.

"We should be honest and must be highly convinced of the candidate we are voting for. I have been examining candidates' ideas that would benefit housewives and widows," Al Kindi said.

With main election day slated for October 5, voters have a few more days to decide which candidates deserve a seat at the FNC.

But in case a voter believes none of the candidates is good enough, the NEC is urging everyone to still go to their polling stations - and instead of choosing a name from the list, they can key in 'abstain from vote'.

"Such a vote does count, and this option is calculated in the final results as part of the total number of votes," a top NEC official said.

More awareness needed

Candidates in this year's polls believe that stronger drives to raise awareness and reach out to voters are a must in earning their trust.

Salim Mohammed bin Huiden, an FNC candidate, said young people, especially university students, "must learn and understand their role and responsibility in this electoral exercise".

Nidaa Al Raisi, also a candidate, said some voters may not be aware of the programmes and capabilities of the candidates. 

"They can look into the electoral programmes and the biographies of each candidate," she said. 

Candidate Thani Al Dhaheri pointed out: "Participating in the elections allows people to take part in decision-making. Voting is a national responsibility."

Candidates expect big win

Many candidates for this year's FNC elections are not anxious at all. They are highly optimistic as they believe they had done their best in presenting their electoral programmes.

Dr Zahra Saeed Sajwani, candidate number 404, said she is expecting women of Sharjah to vote for her, as her programme entitled 'The Voice of Women' focuses on extending support to single and married women, divorcees, and widows.

Dr Sajwani seeks to restructure women's working hours, emergency leaves, and early retirement after a maximum of 15 years of service without any age requirement, among other transformations.

Aisha Bousmnouh, another candidate, said she was confident that she would have the support of many young Emiratis and women. 

Other candidates in Ajman are also expecting a huge number of votes as they called for establishing women and children hospitals in their areas.

They said the sole reason they are running for the elections was to ensure that the emirate would get the best healthcare, education services, and job opportunities for the youth.

Ameena Al Mazrouei, an FNC candidate from Abu Dhabi, said: "The campaign has gone well and I believe many people will be coming to the polls to vote for me."

WHAT WENT BEFORE

In the 2015 FNC elections, the option 'I don't want to vote' was selected by 485 voters, according to the report of the Federal National Council.

Given that 79,157 people voted in these polls, the number of abstain votes was considered minimal.

Still, it showed that voters decided to be positive as they participated in the elections even though they had no one to vote for.

afkarali@khaleejtimes.com

Afkar Abdullah


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