High voter turnout among Egyptian expats in Saudi Arabia

Egyptian expats in Saudi Arabia have flooded the the embassy in Riyadh and the consulate in Jeddah, and informal statistics show that 30,000 Egyptians have cast their ballots on Friday and Saturday so far.

MENA reported that nearly 250,000 Egyptians who live in Saudi Arabia had registered in the embassy in order to vote, making it the largest Egyptian community to do so.

Egyptian expatriates began voting Friday in the first presidential elections since Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February last year. Expatriate voting runs until May 17, with the run-off scheduled for 3 June.

The number of registered expat voters is a small proportion of the estimated 8 million Egyptians abroad. Egypt's election commission says some 500,000 are registered to vote in 166 countries. Saudi Arabia has the largest number of Egyptian expat voters. At home, 53 million Egyptians are eligible to vote.

Following the first day of voting where Egyptian queued in front of the Egyptian embassies especially in the Gulf region, Egypt's foreign minister issued a decision on Saturday to extend expatriate voting hours to be 12 hours.

The Foreign Ministry also has called on expatriates to send ballots by mail to their embassies and consulates to avoid congestion.

MENA quoted the Foreign Ministry spokesperson Amr Roshdy calling on expatriates to take advantage of "the possibility of voting by mail, especially as the voting period still extends until Thursday 17 May, so as to avoid standing in long queues in front of the Egyptian missions."

Roshdy said that the ministry has sent staff, equipment and computers to Egyptian embassies and consulates due to the high density of voters, especially in the Gulf region.

Not all embassies witnessed a high turnout. MENA quoted the Egyptian ambassador to Washington as saying that voter turnout on the first day of the elections was low in the US.

Edited translation from MENA

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