Low turnout at polling station in early hours of by-elections

KUWAIT: National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem casts his votes in yesterday’s by-elections. – Photos by Fouad Al-Shaikh.

KUWAIT: A limited number of people turned out at polling stations to vote in the early hours after voting started for by-elections in the second and third constituencies. Only senior citizens voted until noontime, said informed sources, noting that the process started at 8 am. The sources added that observers from the Arab Network for Democratic Elections (ANDE) were present at Al-Maamoun school in Kaifan, while Ministry of Interior (MoI) officials toured the polling stations to check security measures.

National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Ali Al-Ghanem praised the by-election and described it as a ‘democratic festival.’ In a statement to reporters after casting his vote in the Second Constituency, Ghanem called on everyone to “cast their votes for those who see the best candidates to represent them in parliament.” He stressed that the parliamentary task is not easy as it requires a lot of effort to achieve the aspirations of the citizens.

Meanwhile, Minister of Justice Minister of State for National Assembly Affairs Dr Fahad Al-Afasi said that he found no significant issues during his tour of the ballot stations. He lauded judges and State officials for supervising the polling process that kicked off early today and continued hours later, with voters showing up at the centers to cast their votes.

Speaking to reporters, former finance minister Mustafa Al-Shamali, who voted in Abdullah Al-Salem School, expressed good wishes to all candidates. Chancellor Jamal Al-Meer, who was at Abdullah bin Masoud School, said that only 45 voters had cast their votes by 9:30 am.

Security commander at the main committee in the second constituency Lt Col Jarrah Al-Habashi stressed that the polling process was going smoothly and that MoI had prepared for it days earlier. Head of the main committee in Kaifan’s men polling station Najeeb Al-Mulla said only 28 out of 745 voters had cast their votes in the morning period.

Chancellor Owayyed Al-Thowamer said only 18 voters showed up at the women’s polling station at Boubyan Intermediate School. Chancellor Khaled Al-Mandeel said only 22 out of 916 voters had cast their votes in the morning period at Fatima bint Al-Waleed School, while at Qurtuba Secondary School for girls, only 21 out of the 852 voters showed up.

Notably, several candidates’ representatives filed complaints over allowing the entry of children into polling stations to distribute promotional flyers of certain candidates, to which security forces immediately responded and ordered all the children out.

In the meantime, Ministry of Health (MoH) assistant undersecretary for medical services affairs Dr Fawwaz Al-Refae said there was constant coordination with the medical emergencies department’s operation room to handle any urgent medical cases during the elections. Speaking to reporters, Refae said that all hospitals and clinics are on full alert to deal with any urgent cases, in addition to the presence of 16 temporary clinics, 10 ambulances and 62 paramedics at all voting centers.

By-election were held yesterday to fill seats in the second and third constituencies. The two seats have been vacant since a court order was issued against MPs Dr Waleed Al-Tabtabaie and Dr Jamaan Al-Herbesh, stripping them both of their membership in the National Assembly. Up to 47 nominees, including five women, vied to occupy the two seats. There were 18 candidates, including one female citizen, in the second constituency. In the third, 29 candidates, including four females, competed. Authorities have transformed buildings of 38 schools into ballot stations, while MoH stationed medical teams at the voting centers.

By Meshaal Al-Enezi