Despite long lines and confusing rules, Egyptians have turned out in droves to vote in the country's first elections since the end of Hosni Mubarak's decades old regime.
Past elections in Egypt, while rare, have typically been chaotic and violent, while also being mostly pointless due to Mubarak's usual vote-rigging or simple ignoring of results. So far there have been no major reports of violence, despite the fact that a lot of the chaos is still there. Many polling places were not ready to open at 9:00 a.m. as they were supposed to, ballots have been misplaced or misdirected, parties continued last-minute campaigning (which is illegal), and even those who did get to vote were having trouble with the confusing ballot and rules. More than 50 political parties and thousands of candidates are competing for less than 200 seats in the lower house of Parliament.
And this is just the first stage of a months-long process meant to create a new government — if you can make sense of this plan, you're better than most — that may not even have any real power when it comes together, as the military caretakers continue to assert their dominance over the country. Protests have been raging for more than a week as the military still has not set a date for the presidential election, which is supposed to take place next spring.
Despite all those concerns and the logistical problems that are popping up, turnout is still quite high and people are eager to cast their first real votes in after decades of dictatorship. (It also helps that Egyptians can be fined for not voting, though that isn't the only reason for the turnout.) Even protesters who continue to question the legitimacy of the elections and the military council that filled the Mubarak void are casting ballots in the hope that moves the process of the revolution forward. If you're interested in live updates, some of the reporters on the ground who gather news from all over, include The Wall Street Journal's Tamer El-Ghobashy, CNN's Ben Wedeman, McClatchy's Hallah Allam, and of course Al Jazeera.