An Omani man casts his ballot for the consultative council at a polling station in Muscat on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Muscat: Omanis queued up in polling stations across the country from early morning to cast their votes for the seventh term of Oman’s Majlis Al Shura on Sunday.

The number of voters with activated electoral cards stood at 611,906. They are choosing from 590 candidates who are vying for 85 seats in the Majlis Al Shura, according to the Ministry of Interior.

There are 107 voting centres distributed among the 61 provinces nationwide. The stations were open from 7am to 7pm.

The organising committee of the Shura election reported a huge turnout nationwide. Sixty-four per cent of voters were under the age of 45.

Dawood Al Busaidi, a member of the organising committee, told Gulf News that the election process went very smoothly but the number of women who turned out was less than hoped for.

What distinguished Sunday’s vote from other elections was a comprehensive judicial supervision in the wake of recent amendments to the Basic Law which occurred two years ago.

The introduction of electronic voting on touch screens was another new edition to this year’s elections. The electronic system aims to ensure the voting was conducted confidentially and with integrity.

The electronic process could immediately release exit poll numbers after 7pm.

In the case of a tie, the candidates will be put to a draw in front of the organising committee.

Results will be released first to the Minister of Interior, who will then issue a statement with all the names of the news Shura members.

Results will be announced in local media outlets, including TV, radio and newspapers.

Candidates have the right to appeal the election results and can present their case to the main committee of the Shura elections within ten days from the released results.

They must provide solid proof with supportive reasons and documents.

The Appeals department of the Main Committee will then issue its ruling on the case.

Anyone found guilty of tampering with or destroying voter lists will be jailed up to six months and slapped with a fine not less than 3,000 riyals.

The seventh Shura election comes at a turning point in the history of the legislative body, which gives the Shura Council more legislative powers. It enables the council to participate in the study of public budgets of the state, government projects as well as grilling ministers of service ministries.

The chairman of the Majlis Al Shura will submit an annual report of its work to Sultan Qaboos.

The Omani Shura Council was established in 1991 to replace the Consultative State Council, which lasted from 1981 until 1991.

The Majlis Al Shura is the lower house of the council of Oman and has enjoyed some legislative and regulatory powers since 2011.