I voted, and I feel good because of it.
I've been pretty vocal against the call to boycott today's referundum, but I never dared to call on people to go and vote. Because although I'm strongly against the boycott, I know that the result of today's referundum is well known in advance, and tomorrow's headline news in the local papers were already written yesterday.
Ofcourse its useless to go vote as long as only a minority --whom are mostly pro the regime (for all the different reasons)-- are the only ones to go, regardless if the referundum environment is fair and clean or not. So today, those who boycotted the referundum lost, and those who went and said No to the new constitution amendment text lost.
I've been feeling very silly all day for my insistence to go vote, until I actually voted.
In the morning, most of my colleagues at work were making jokes about the referundum. During a conference call, there was a disagreement and someone suggested that we should make our own referundum to come up with a decision. Another one responded that Ahmed is boycotting the referundum, so its not a good idea.
During a rare conversation I was having with my religious colleague, I asked him why he's boycotting the elections. "Is it because you just don't care, like most of us, or are you following the boycott of one of the opposition movements? You know Mahdy Akef [the Muslim Brotherhood leader] called on the Muslim Brothers to go and vote No." He responded with the usual boycott argument and that the Muslim Brotherhood provided conflicting statements regarding the boycott.
My company had decided that all employees would have a shorter day today to be able to go participate in the referundum (you can sure tell that our senior executives are not Egyptian). Most employees took off early to enjoy the rest of the day with their families. A few line managers however decided that there is work to do, and no one questioned what the priorities are (working or voting). I however, decided to leave at 4.30 instead of 3.30, and I still got that look, "you're not seriuos are you, you're not leaving us here and leaving!". Well, I still left, and avoided an argument of whether 'going to vote' (not the referundum itself) was more important than delaying the work, or not.
I went to a school in my area, asked them if they had a polling station, and they directed me to another near by school. While I was asking, I was wondering what they must be thinking of this stupid guy who's going to vote. They were however very helpful in directing me to the other school. I went to the other school, which had a small sign indicating that there is a polling station inside, and a big sign supporting the amendment text to the constitution, with a big Yes, to it, and to President Mubarak as well. Inside, a bunch of folks/administrators who belong to the school and to the Ministry of Interior were hanging around, and some were in uniform. Feeling that I'm doing something wrong, I shyly asked where the poll station was, and they kindly directed me to the third floor. "Do you have an election card?", "No" I said, "Just my National ID". "No problem, just tell them upstairs to use the daftar elwafedeen".
Upstairs, two government employees (didn't look like judges) handed me the ballot card, and I handed them my National ID. I asked them if many people came to vote today. They said, "Yeah, sure. Some said Yes, some said No, and some invalidated their vote to prove their existance. You can do whatever you want." I thought this was a secret ballot, but never mind. They were nice, and their answer was confident. They didn't have executive orders to act in a certain way, because the executives are confident enough in the results.
I asked them how to mark my ballot card, marked the card, thanked them, and left. On my way out, four classy persons were going in the school, so I nodded to them in support.
I was feeling silly all day for wanting to go vote and for insisting to go. I kept having that inner voice telling me, "you shouldn't leave your colleagues at work for that silly vote. You probably have to be registered and have an election card to be able to vote, so better go home. If you don't find the polling station in this school, then just go home and enjoy the rest of the day. The school seems to be closed, just go home." But for some silly reason, I was stubborn until I marked that useless ballot card, and boy did I feel good about it.
Of the few people I talked to today about the referundum, only one person went to vote. Most don't care, some were boycotting, some were busy with more important stuff. I called a couple of friends on my way there, one said "cool I'll come, but pick me up and let's go together", but I was short in time, so I unfortunately dropped him. The other said "I'll take a nap, and let's go out tonight". I called a friend involved with Kefaya after I finished voting to confirm his boycott, and to tell me that today's demonstration by Kefaya turned violent, protestors were beaten and girls were sexually harrased (I hope the two girls I know there weren't violated by those thugs). I talked to my dad who hasn't voted in years to tell him that I just voted, and he was astonished wondering where did I do it and if I needed an election card.
I was feeling so fine until right this moment after writing that last paragraph. Shit. There's no hope in this country.
UPDATE: A friend of mine just told me he saw one of the girls I know in the Kefaya demonstration on TV holding a banner and shouting slogans.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
I voted, and I feel good because of it.