Egyptians have voted in a first stage of parliamentary elections. The ballot is seen as another step on the road to electoral reform, coming just two months after the first contested presidential election. Although that poll, like this, was unlikely to lessen the grip on power held by the ruling National Democratic Party, many voters were upbeat.For Sayed Abdel el Aziz, things seemed different this time around, “They have transparent boxes…it is democracy in action,” he said. The elections are especially important this year because they could decide who might eventually challenge President Hosni Mubarak for his job. Opposition parties need at least 23 of the 444 elected seats in the lower house to retain the right to field a presidential candidate during the next parliament’s term. The poll is the first of three, different regions are voting on different specified days. The final results are expected in mid-December.