Mustapha Ajbaili: In Morocco, ‘Vote early and vote often’ even if the results are preordained


On the day my country was asked to go to the polls and say “Yes” to a new constitution, I called my parents who live in a tiny Berber village southeast of the country to ask them if people were going to vote.

My father told me that local authorities, represented by the Moqaddam, brought him voting cards for me and for my brothers who live outside the country. The Moqaddam asked my father to cast vote on our behalf.

This was without the apparent consideration to the fact that we might vote in our consulates abroad. Apparently it was O.K. to vote twice than not vote at all. Amid calls for boycott, turnout was key in the first constitutional referendum during the reign of King Mohammad VI.

Videos of people casting ballots without neither voting cards nor national ID cards are abundant on the Internet. In some cases, authorities used school buses to transport the elderly from remote areas to the voting centers.

The voting activities on Friday, of course, quickly spawned jokes on the Internet. Here’s one popular joke:

A man voted “No” for the new constitution by mistake. As he walked home, he realized his mistake and returned to the polling center to ask officials if he could change his vote. They told him: We already corrected that mistake for you, just don’t do it again.

But in this referendum, there is something positive, after all: I found out that the Moroccan administration is so developed and advanced that it could count ballots nationwide, including from hundreds of villages scattered and isolated in the Atlas mountains, and do this in record time--four hours after the closing of the polling centers. What an extraordinary job you have done, my country.

(Mustapha Ajbaili, a senior editor at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at [email protected])