Monday, January 03, 2005

Iraqi Voter Registration

After the United Nations imposed sanctions on the Iraqi people after Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, food rationing cards became precious to Iraqis. I mean really, really precious. Yes, as precious as the ring was to Gollum. Without those cards, you couldn't get the precious oil, flour, sugar and other rations from the government. I don't wish the food rationing experience for any other country. It's painful.

Actually, those cards became handy for the upcoming elections. Iraqis don't have to register to vote. All they need is to present their food rationing card to the election officer on election day. So, all is cool regarding this matter that's been debated on many blogs.

People who have returned to Iraq to vote needed to get food rationing cards before they become eligible to vote. I told you those cards are precious.

The expat voting process is different. Voters need to go to the voting center, show the proper documents to prove their Iraqi identity, register to vote and go back again on voting day to cast their ballet. That's fair enough. The only problem is the voter has to travel to the nearest city holding the elections in the voter's country of residence. No mail-in ballots are allowed this time and not many countries opened voting centers. That's bad.

The Washington Post reported:

After a slow start to the six-week registration process that began Nov. 1, the number of voters making corrections to official voter lists more than doubled in the final week, according to a final tally quoted by election officials Saturday.

Officials said more than 2.1 million people went to local election offices to assure that eligible members of their households could vote. About 1.2 million forms were submitted to add names to the voter lists, an involved process that requires providing proof of identification and residence.

"That's a definite marker of voter interest," said an expert with the Independent Election Commission of Iraq who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Because Iraqis do not have to take any steps to register to vote -- food rationing accounts serve as voter rolls -- requests for corrections are essentially the only gauge of voter involvement in the registration process for the Jan. 30 election.

"This is a very good indicator," said Hussein Hindawi, who heads the election office. "We are very optimistic."

Hopefully, this post clarified people's concerns about the percentage of Iraqis registered to vote. In theory, every eligible voter living in Iraq is registered. We hope to see a high percentage of those people voting for their country's future.

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