By Morocco News Agency Staff
Rabat, Morocco --- November 25, 2011 ... Morocco’s historic elections got off to a very good start by noontime. International monitors in all the country’s main cities reported peaceful and ordinary votes. The weather is great – the sun is shining and the temperatures are mild, which should help voterturnout. Significantly, the pace of voters’ turnout picked up a bit.
The election voting stations throughout Morocco opened at 8 a.m. (08:00 GMT) and will close at 7 p.m. (19:00 GMT). The voter population is young - 57% of Morocco’s 13.6 million eligible voters are 35 or younger.
Indicative of the importance of the elections to the Moroccan political establishment is that 5,873 candidates from 31 parties are seeking to fill the 395 seats of Parliament - 70 of them earmarked for young and woman candidates.
The main challenge facing the Morocco political system is voters’ apathy. Back in the 2009 local and regional elections election turnout was 37 percent. In urban slums and remote villages downtrodden told pollsters that “they did not plan to cast their ballots because they had no faith that legislators would work to improve their lives.”Therefore, all political parties and the media have conducted a major awareness campaign in the last few days urging the populace to go out and vote.
Famous artists, entertainers and other media personalities went public promising that they would “do all they can” to ensure higher turnout than in previous elections. As well, the entire country is covered with official banners urging the people to “do their national duty” and “participate in the change the country is undergoing.”
International monitors in Morocco reported that in the polling election stations they visited staff members are adhering scrupulously to the voting process intended to ensure both no-multiple voting and absence of any voter intimidation.
Arriving at a polling station, the would-be voter is met by the first team of staff that is to verify the voter’s identity. The secretary of the polling station personally handles the voter’s national ID card to verify his or her eligibility. The secretary reads out loud the name and ID number and two other staff members verify the presence of the name and number on the voters’ list. Once the voter’s identity and eligibility are verified - the voter takes from a separate table a paper ballot form. The voter in Morocco then enters an enclosed polling booth. There he or she marks the national and local lists as he or she chooses. The voter then folds the paper ballot form so the marked selection is concealed from view. The voter then inserts the ballot form into the ballot box under the supervision of two staff members to make sure that there is no multiple voting.
The head of the polling station then marks the finger of the voter with inedible ink. The two members of the polling station staff sign in the margins of the voters’ list to confirm that the voter cast his/her ballot. The secretary hands the voter his national ID card and escort him/her out of the polling station. The next would be voter is then ushered in. International monitors noted that by mid-day the election process in Morocco was going on smoothly and no complaints were recorded.
The question on everybody’s mind remains the ultimate voters’ turnout.