Egypt’s Supreme Electoral Commission said that voter turnout in the run-off presidential election was lower on Saturday and Sunday than in the first round ballot.
Voting concluded at 10 p.m. (20:00 GMT), following a last-minute extension to deal with expectations of late voting.
Egyptians went to the pull in the second round of the presidential race, making a daunting choice between a former general of the old guard and an Islamist who says he is running for God.
Many were perplexed and fearful of the future and signs were that, as in last month’s first round, millions would not vote.
The contest, pitting Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq against Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, the veteran Islamist movement, is supposed to seal a democratic transition that began with Mubarak’s overthrow 16 months ago.
But concern over a backlash among the disappointed losers saw the Interior Ministry put forces on alert across the country for the end of two days of voting at 10 p.m. (20:00 GMT).
“We have to vote because these elections are historic,” said Amr Omar, voting in Cairo, who called himself an activist of the youth revolution. Reluctantly putting aside misgivings about the Brotherhood’s religious agenda, he said: “I will vote for Morsy.
“Even if it means electing the hypocritical Islamists, we must break the vicious cycle of Mubarak’s police state.”
But many other Egyptians, weary of political turmoil and the economic crisis it has brought, believe Shafiq has the backing of the “deep state” - entrenched interests from the military to big business - and so may be better placed to bring prosperity.
Privately, officials from both camps suggested Shafiq had edged ahead with two hours of voting still ahead. After a baking hot day, many people preferred to cast ballots after dark.
The new president will inherit a struggling economy, deteriorating security and the challenge of uniting a nation divided by the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak in February 2011.
The election comes against the backdrop of a series of steps that have consolidated the ruling military’s power, infuriating activists and boosting the boycott movement.
On Thursday, the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled certain articles in the law governing parliamentary elections to be invalid, thus annulling the Islamist-led house.
The Brotherhood won 47 percent of the body’s seats in a drawn-out process between November last year and February.