Emiratis cast their vote for Federal National Council (FNC) elections in Sharjah.
Emiratis cast their vote during the Federal National Council (FNC) elections on Tuesday in Sharjah. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Early voting for elections to the fourth Federal National Council (FNC) started on Tuesday morning at nine polling stations in the UAE.

At Dubai World Trade Centre, Emirati professionals, homemakers, officials and businessmen cast their votes for 20 candidates aspiring to be FNC members.

Early voting, for the elderly, people of determination and those who want to cast their votes as soon as they can, lasts until October 3. The main Election Day is on October 5, expecting to see around 337,700 Emiratis voting at 39 polling stations across the country.

In Dubai, voters said they found the process easy and quick.

Emiratis arrive to cast their votes for early Federal National Council(FNC) elections at Dubai World Trade Centre. Video by: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

“Everything was fast and perfect. I came here today for early voting as it was easier for me, compared to the main the election day. I voted the first time four years ago and now I’m voting again. The procedure is the same, only faster,” said Maryam Sarhan.

A government employee, Salem Juma, 45, said he voted for the first time. “From parking to the ballot, everything was smooth. To cast my vote, it took me less than a minute. Everyone working at the polling station are so helpful,” he added.

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Candidates look on as Emiratis cast their votes for early Federal National Council(FNC) elections at Dubai World Trade Centre Image Credit: b5407cc1-d75b-4de9-ad9f-50c294819af4

His friend, Saif Johar, a 52-year-old businessman, echoed Juma’s views, saying everything went smoothly.

Voters in Abu Dhabi reported the same.

Many women, elderly people and men trooped in to checking counters to finally get entry into polling booths in the capital.

At Adnec, the National Election Committee installed 12 entry counters to finally reach to polling booths. Each counter is manned by two persons to receive voters.

Many people even turned up to vote as the counters opened at 9am.

A voter who turned up the Adnec at 9am, Mohammad Al Raisi, 40, said, “I opted to early vote to set an example for my children the importance of casting their right to ballot and participating in this historic moment.”

This is grand day and happy to be part of it. This is a legacy of building a better and prosperous country and being a part of it, he said.

This practice ensures better and bright future to our youth, Al Raisi said.

He also appreciated the good and swift arrangements of voting.

According to the National Election Committee, the early voting would take place at nine national polling stations, while the main voting will begin on the national election day on October 5 at 39 polling stations nationwide.

Another voter, Mohammad Saeed Al Zaabi, 59, said, “For me it took about a minute to vote and very quick and well organised.”

“I wanted to vote today to be first to cast the vote as rulers instructed to be first to vote,” he said.

On other hand it’s good to vote early it’s bery easy and hassle free, we don’t have to wait in queues as on final voting day may crowded, Al Zaabi said.

Each voter only has one vote during the same election cycle and can choose only one candidate.

The recently concluded overseas voting process saw 1,842 people vote in polling stations around the world, reflecting their keenness to undertake their national duty.

Emiratis started voting to elect their next parliamentarians on September 22 in overseas, while the main election will happen on October 5, and the results of the preliminary count will be announced on the same day.

According to the National Election Committee (NEC), the total number of candidates for the Federal National Council (FNC) elections includes 495 names – 133 from Abu Dhabi, 88 from Dubai, 114 from Sharjah, 61 from Ras Al Khaimah, 26 from Ajman, 20 from Umm Al Quwain, and 53 from Fujairah.

Over 337,738 Emiratis will vote during the polls, marking a 50.58 per cent increase from 224,281 electoral college members in 2015.

On the first day of voting in Sharjah a huge number of voters reached the centre to cast their vote. Voters cast their ballots at polling stations equipped with 33 electronic voting systems.  

Dr. Ahmad Hassan Al Zarouni, director of the polling station at Sharjah Chess club , said that a total of 46 volunteers are working to guide and assist voters .

He said the entire process of voting took only five minutes from entering the polling station to casting their vote. 

Two golf vehicles in addition to wheel chairs are provided in the centre to transport the voters. There is also a special machine for people of determination and another device allocated for people who have lost their ID. They can apply for the form manually even without ID if they submit proof that they have lost it.

People were seeing waiting outside the polling station before 9am registration.

Rashid Harb Al Khasoni, 25, said it wasn't his first time to vote, adding that it was a national duty to do so. He said the process was smooth and easy and only took five minutes. 

"We are with our leadership and follow their path," he said.