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Egypt: First Free Presidential Election Underway

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Elections 2011/2012.

Egyptians are voting in the country's first free presidential election. The voting will take place on May 23 and 24, with a runoff on June 16 and 17 if necessary.

Fifty million people are eligible to vote. While large queues have formed at some polling stations, the turnout seems to be lower than for the parliamentary elections in November 2011. This may reflect a disillusionment with the candidates felt by many.

Tarek Shalaby commented on the low turnout:

@tarekshalaby: On March 19th [the constitutional referendum], I was in the queue wrapping around this school. Right now it's deserted. Maybe later…

No queue. Image posted by @tarekshalaby

Journalist Erin Cunningham commented on the turnout in Ismailia in north-east Egypt:

@erinmcunningham: Bakery in Ismailia central has longer, more enthusiastic line than polling stations I saw. ‪#Egyelex‬ ‪#breadpolitics

Nadine Sabry gave one explanation as to why turnout was low:

@nsabry: major differentiating factor is the weather. I went around 2 pm last time but wont go today til 6:30-7 when it is emptier & cooler

Emirati Sultan Al Qassemi is visiting Cairo, and took this picture:

Long queue for all-male voting station at Orman school in Dokki. Image posted by @SultanAlQassemi.

Kareem Hosem in Cairo commented:

@akaHoezy: I dream of a day when men & women can stand in one line to vote without trouble. Gender segregation should be a thing of the past. ‪#EgyElex

Journalist Adam Makary in Suez took us through the voting process:

@adamakary: First, you show your national ID card to match your number with those registered to vote. Then, you sign ‪#Suez‬ ‪#EgyElex

Image posted by @adamakary.

@adamakary: Second step, pick up your voting card. ‪#Suez‬ ‪#EgyElex

Image posted by @adamakary.

@adamakary: And you wait… with ballot and pen in hand. ‪#Suez‬ ‪#EgyElex‬

Image posted by @adamakary.

@adamakary: After you tick off the box selecting your preferred candidate, you drop your ballot into a sealed box. ‪#Suez‬ ‪#EgyElex

Image posted by @adamakary.

@adamakary: Finally, you collect your ID card, dip your finger in purple, permanent ink and off you go. ‪#Suez‬ ‪#EgyElex

Image posted by @adamakary.

Lilz voted, and commented:

@Booky_Lillz: Is anyone else's skin reacting to the dye? I think Im getting hives! ‪#EgyElex‬ ‪#EgyPresElection

Nadeen Hafez in Cairo voted with pride:

@NadeenHafez: Took me 3 hours and a half to vote. Totally worth it. All for you, Egypt! ‪#EgyElex‬ ‪#PresidentialElections

Omar Elimam could not believe the change in Egypt:

@elimam_o: Simply put, I still cannot comprehend that I'm going to vote for ‪#Egypt‬'s president. ‪#egyelex

BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen spoke to a voter:

@jfjbowen: I asked one woman in the queue to vote how long she'd been waiting. 30 years she said with a big laugh ‪#EgyPresElection

For more on the presidential elections see this Storify by Asteris Masouras.

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Elections 2011/2012.

Featured image shows woman proudly showing off her inked finger outside a Zamalek polling station after voting in Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential election, by Sallie Pisch, copyright Demotix (23/05/2012).

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