With less than three days left to register to vote for the Egyptian presidential elections, the number of Egyptians who have registered to vote from abroad remains a little under 0.5 million (out of an estimated total of 10 million Egyptian expatriates). If you haven't registered yet, you should go here now and do so.
Truth be told, the registration process is more complicated than it needs to be, and is made worse by some bugs in the online system. It took me several days to register successfully. In case it helps others, here are the main three problems I ran into while registering (note that the first two problems should no longer be an issue for anyone):
- At first, not all National ID numbers were recorded in the online database. When I tried to register, the form did not recognize my ID number. So I sent out a "trouble ticket" (you can do so here), and was told that all numbers would be in the database by March 24th. Truly enough, my number was accepted by the website on the 25th.
- The system did not recognize my mother's first name. Once you enter your ID number, you're taken to an online form which requires you to enter a lot of information which includes your mother's first name. Every time I filled out the form, I got an error message telling me that I had entered this name incorrectly (seems I wasn't the only one; the trouble ticket form I linked to above allows you to select "Problems related to mother's first name" directly from a drop down menu). The response to my second trouble ticket said that there was a bug in the system, which would be fixed within 48 hours. Partially true, since another family member of mine who got the same error message succeeded in registering after the 48 hours had passed. I, on the other hand, kept getting the same error message.
- The system has trouble with the letter "هاء". Specifically, if your mother's name is spelt with "تاء التأنيث" at the end, the database probably has it with the letter "هاء" instead. That's common enough, and I tried the alternate spelling unsuccessfully before sending my trouble ticket. The problem was hard to pinpoint: the "هاء" that the website uses as a substitute for "تاء التأنيث" is different than the one it uses everywhere else (i.e., my father's name ends with the letter "هاء", and there were no problems there). After a few back and forth e-mails with tech support, they e-mailed me my mother's name as listed in their database, and asked me to copy and paste it directly into the form. This worked, allowing me to successfully register. If you're running into this same problem, try copying and pasting this "ه" into your form (note that it's slightly different than this "ه").
Since I spent a few days communicating with tech support through forms and e-mails, it's worth mentioning that the tech support staff for the online registration system is excellent. They're quick to respond, and very helpful. My troubles and complaints aside, I'm very glad to see the effort that's being made to help Egyptian expatriates vote. Take advantage of the opportunity, and give your feedback. You'll be doing yourself and everyone else a service.