Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Remembering Voter Enthusiasm In Africa

In February, YJI Reporter Bwette Daniel Gilbert of Kampala, Uganda, covered his country's election and took photos of voters in line at the polls. In March, YJI Senior Reporter Jessica Elsayed, of Alexandria, Egypt, voted for the first time in her country's historic post-revolution election.
Since it's Election Day in America and a lot of registered voters are staying home, here's a sample of the level of voter interest, despite some dangers, for elections in Uganda and Egypt:

Ugandans Head To The Polls

By Bwette Daniel Gilbert
Junior Reporter
KAMPALA, Uganda – The presidential election got off to a slow start Saturday but drew long lines of voters in some places.
Seven challengers were running against President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who has held office since 1986.
Election observers were on hand from local and regional organizations such as the European Union, the Democracy Monitoring Group and others to keep an eye on every step of the election process.
Bwette Daniel Gilbert / youthjournalism.org
Ugandan voters in line at a primary school
Watching the polling places, however, it was clear the Electoral Commission didn’t do enough to educate people about how to vote. In some areas of the country, people didn’t even know an election was underway.
In the Gulu region, which has suffered a civil war for more than a quarter of a century, the election was the first in which residents could cast a ballot.
Despite the preparation, there were glitches here and there that kept some from voting, including missing names in the registers, transferring some voters to new polling stations without telling them and some violence in the eastern part of Uganda.
To read the rest and see more pictures, click on the headline, "Ugandans Head To The Polls."

Jessica Elsayed's inked finger shows that she voted 

From Revolt To The Ballot Box In Egypt

By Jessica Elsayed
Senior Reporter
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt -- Before the revolution, the idea that a person’s vote would actually count for something was a scene from a dream.
It seemed unimaginable that people who weren’t bribed or threatened could cast meaningful ballots in a legitimate election.
But since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak on February 11, a new sun of freedom has shone – and today, a sunny Saturday, marks the first-ever fair, transparent and free constitutional referendum in Egyptian history.
People who never thought they would ever engage in the actual choosing of their future headed to the polls in the first democratic activity of its kind that Egyptians have seen, turning Facebook profile pictures red for NO or green for YES.
Every city has hundreds of polls located in neighborhood schools, making them accessible to everyone.
To read the rest, click on the headline, "From Revolt To The Ballot Box In Egypt."

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