AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Millions of Egyptians living abroad are watching the violence and fractured voting process from afar. For the first time ever, they too are being allowed to cast absentee ballots at Egyptian embassies around the world. Approximately 700,000 Egyptians in the U.S. are eligible to vote, though only around 20,000 are actually registered. Ballots are being collected at the Egyptian embassy in Washington till midnight tonight. We went down there to check out how the voting was going. Ambassador Sameh Shoukry was overseeing the process.
SAMEH SHOUKRY: This last week has been quite the turbulent week, but we are focused on the elections. We are focused on our role here to provide Egyptians living in the United States with a transparent and organized experience.
MOHAMMED ISMAIL: My name is Mohammed Ismail and I live in Philadelphia, and I'm a physician. The ballots came out on Wednesday. And that was kind of a crazy time because it was like Thanksgiving morning and it was like you had to print everything and they said they want it Friday morning and I work on Fridays. So, I decided I'm just going to drive. I never voting have in my life before. You know, we grew up not really believing how to vote. It's just like you had a pharaoh, whatever they called him, it was one after the other. It was like godsend. Now, I think there might be a difference.
INAN SUWABI: My name is Inan Suwabi(ph). I'm from Raleigh, North Carolina. So, we have 73 or 75 envelopes here for my church in Raleigh. And we collected as well envelopes from a South Carolina church. Egypt is my country and I feel this is loyalty to do this and to do it for our families in Egypt.
SHARIF MONSOUR: My name is Sharif Monsour. I'm here as an observer. I'm here representing the Egyptian Season for Change. I am still concerned about how many people were able to vote so far but still a small portion of those who have registered online and still also a small portion who are eligible to vote abroad.
AIDA MADI: OK. Post it to all your, yeah, on your wall and have everybody share it. My name is Aida Madi. I am American Egyptian and I came here to cast my vote. And I'm part of the observers as well. A lot of people, they have to go on the Internet and, like, print out the ballots, and that was a challenge because myself, I was two days sitting on my laptop trying and the site was, like, busy. I think it's like we're witnessing history because even people in Egypt, they were never actually voting. It was kind of like yes or no and this is not a vote. But now even everybody feels that his voice makes a difference. I think we're going to get in their (foreign language spoken).
CORNISH: Egyptian absentee voters recorded yesterday at the embassy of Egypt in Washington, D.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.