Minimal turnout reported in Amman by-elections

The Independent Elections Commission (IEC) on Saturday said that the voting rate in Amman’s 2nd District by-election reached only 13.5 per cent, with the total number of citizens casting their votes not exceeding 26,000.

The IEC carried out the by-elections in order to fill a vacant parliamentary seat after Deputy Mohammed Mahseiri passed away few days after he won one of the district’s four seats in the January 23 elections.

The voting process started at 7:00am and polling were closed at 7:00pm, after which the IEC started counting votes.

Although the Civil Coalition for Monitoring the Parliamentary Elections (Rasid) reported “violations” in the process, IEC Spokesperson Hussein Bani Hani said the process went on smoothly.

In a statement, Rasid said that there were violations during the elections process, naming vote buying as a major irregularity.

“Several cases of vote buying took place at the gates of the polling centres,” the coalition charged, saying that the practice, which has marred previous polls, concentrated in areas like Hai Nazzal, Jofeh, Nasser, Manara and Um Nuwwara.

These are the first by-elections for the current Lower House, which is currently busy with deliberations over the government’s policy statement. The vote of confidence session is expected to be held mid-week.

Over 185,000 voters have registered for Amman’s 2nd District by-elections, according to the IEC.

The commission prepared 62 election centres, with 297 ballot boxes, distributed among the constituency, which involves neighbourhoods of east and south Amman.

When the results are officially announced, the Lower House will have all its 150 seats occupied, after Nayef Leimoun regained the Karak’s 6th District seat uncontested. Lemoun lost the seat after the Amman Court of Appeals annulled the official results of the January 23 parliamentary elections in the district last month.

Earlier this week, the IEC announced that three out of the four candidates running for the parliamentary seat for the southern district, around 135km south of the capital, withdrew their candidacies, leaving the seat for Leimoun.