Federal National Council elections: how to vote

The main election day is set for October 5, when hundreds and thousands of Emiratis will cast their ballots to elect 20 of the more than 400 candidates in the race to join the FNC

Voters at the polling machines for the 2015 Federal National Council election in Fujairah. Antonie Robertson / The National
Voters at the polling machines for the 2015 Federal National Council election in Fujairah. Antonie Robertson / The National

Polls will open for UAE’s largest election on October 5 - when most Emiratis will cast their ballots to elect half the members of the country’s Federal National Council.

Thirty-nine polling stations across the UAE will accommodate the 330,000 Emiratis eligible to vote in this year’s election.

Of these, nine polling stations will open early, between October 1-3, for citizens who keen on voting before the main election day. Overseas voting, at 118 polling stations, was completed last week.

So how can Emiratis vote? Who is eligible and how do the FNC elections work? The National answers all here:

Who can vote?

Only Emiratis whose names have been included in the Electoral College List have the right to vote.

This year will be the largest election to date with 337,738 Emiratis included in the list by the National Elections Committee.

How Emiratis are chosen is unclear but citizens can only vote for candidates in their respective emirates.

The list identified 101,549 voters from Abu Dhabi, 60,772 from Dubai, 64,293 from Sharjah, 10,165 from Ajman, 6,653 from Umm Al Quwain, 55,289 from Ras Al Khaimah and 39,017 from Fujairah.

The full list of eligible voters is on the committee’s website - www.uaenec.ae - where Emiratis must validate their names by entering their Emirates ID number.

Check if you are an eligible voter here: https://www.uaenec.ae/ar/voters.

Where to vote?

Emiratis abroad cast their ballots on September 22 and 23 at voting booths set up at UAE embassies and in consulates.

Three early voting stations will be set up in Abu Dhabi (one in Abu Dhabi city, one in Al Ain and one in Al Garbia region). Each other emirate will have its own early polling station from October 1 to 3, when Emiratis can vote between 9am and 6pm.

The main election day is October 5, when preliminary results will be announced.

Fourteen polling stations will be set in Abu Dhabi, five in Abu Dhabi city, five in Al Ain and four in Al Gharbia region.

Six stations will be available in Dubai, seven in Sharjah, two in Ajman, five in Ras Al Khaimah, two in Umm Al Quwain and three in Fujairah.

All 39 stations will open from 8am to 8pm on Election Day.

The National Election Committee may extend the election if deemed necessary.

https://www.uaenec.ae/ar/elections-centers

How to vote?

Members of the Electoral College have the right to cast one vote for a candidate of their choice from the emirate they belong to. Candidates can vote for themselves.

Voters must bring their Emirates ID to their nearest polling station, even if it is not in the same emirate they belong to.

Voters cannot authorise anyone to vote on their behalf but illiterate voters or people with special needs can vote verbally and confidentially to the chairman of the election committee or one of the committee members authorised by the chairman.

Eligible Emiratis living in the UAE can also cast their ballots through an electronic voting system at specific stations across the country.

What happens after Election Day?

Currently, 479 Emiratis are competing for 20 FNC seats. The remaining 20 members are appointed by the Rulers of each emirate.

The preliminary list of elected members will be released on October 5 after the polls close, unless an extension is announced.

Candidates can register appeals on October 6 and 7, which the National Elections Committee will respond to on October 9 to 10.

The final list of elected candidates will be announced on October 13, unless supplementary elections are held.

What is the FNC?

The Federal National Council is one of five federal authorities established by the UAE constitution. It held its first session on December 2, 1972, a year to the day after federation.

It has 40 members and its speaker is Dr Amal Al Qubaisi.

The members represent the UAE population through each of the emirates. Abu Dhabi and Dubai have eight members each, Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah six, and Ajman, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain have four.

They bring Emirati issues to the council for debate and put those concerns to ministers summoned for questioning.

The FNC’s main functions include passing, amending or rejecting draft federal laws, discussing international treaties and agreements, and offering recommendations on general subjects raised during sessions. The FNC is an advisory council.

Federal draft laws must first pass through the FNC for recommendations when members can amend the laws to suit the needs of citizens. The draft laws are then forwarded to the Cabinet for consideration and approval.

Since 2006, half of the members have been elected by UAE citizens to serve four-year terms and the other half are appointed by the Ruler’s Courts of the seven emirates.

In the 2015 elections, 78 of the 252 candidates were women. Women also represented 48 per cent of all voters and 67 per cent of the voters were under the age of 40.

What is different this year?

This year, President Sheikh Khalifa decreed that women must make up half the FNC 40 seats. If 20 women are not elected, they will be appointed by the Government- which appoints 50 per cent of the members anyway.

Updated: September 30, 2019 08:53 PM

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