In this post, which he promises to update throughout the day, Qifa gives an excellent description of the voting experience under Lebanon’s “new improved” system, and the general atmosphere in the country.
This is the latest in his series of excellent posts about the whole election process. The guy is a national treasure.
Highlights from today’s post:
- I was struck by how calm and orderly everything was. Soldiers and police manned the entrances and exits, checking every voter’s identification card before letting him or her in, one by one, to vote.
…Leaving the election center, someone tried to slip me a “thank you” voucher for $20 worth of gasoline at the Sahyouneh gas station on the way out of Saida, but I politely declined the offer…
One apparent innovation in this election is that voters can write their own ballots– that is, they have the option not to simply vote for an entire preprinted list of candidates in each of the multi-seat constituencies.
QN voted some place south of Saida. Then he traveled to a few polling places in East and West Beirut and wrote this:
- More of the same: people making their way to voting centers in an orderly fashion; party representatives passing out ballots to people in cars at intersections; soldiers everywhere. I collected a few of these ballots as souvenirs. As you can see below, there isn’t a whole lot of room on each ballot to scratch out any names and replace them with others; this is, of course the point, such that voters are compelled to vote for an entire slate, “zayy/mitl ma hiyye” (just as it is).
It strikes me that the lack of standardization in the ballot papers can be a cause of huge confusion in the tallying process… Also, his report about the gasoline voucher offer is a huge concern.
Of course, the whole campaign process has been drenched in money, much of it apparently foreign.
But has all this money been poured in to ensure that the voting process actually is a fair and accurate one? Shouldn’t the election authorities in Lebanon have done more to ensure that this is the case?
And why is someone taking very visible steps (the gas vouchers) to subvert the process? Might this scheme actually have been intended, by those organizing it, to create evidence that “proves” that the election process is flawed, and thus a basis on which to challenge its outcome?
Lots of questions.
Let’s hope the election-monitoring teams sent by the Carter Center– headed by the former Prez himself– and other respected bodies will be able to sort it all out.