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Election Official Says Polls on Track

Despite the swelling number of attacks on polling stations, the election body believes it is ready for the big day.
By Zaineb Naji

Iraq's national electoral body has said the increase in insurgent attacks on polling sites has not had a major impact on preparations for the January 30 vote.

Adil al-Lamy, a member of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, IECI, made the statement at a Baghdad press conference held on January 27, the day before election campaigning officially ends.

Al-Lamy admitted that the poor security situation had caused delays in finding poll workers, but said his commission now had a staff of 200,000.

To date the number of registered voters inside the country has risen to 12,965,386, while 280,000 more Iraqi nationals have been registered to vote abroad.

The electoral commission has printed 24 million ballot papers for the Iraqi National Assembly election (separate elections are being held the same day for provincial councils and the Kurdish regional assembly). “The spare ballots are for the eventuality of acts of sabotage, or unforeseen events such as the crash of a plane carrying two million ballots,” explained Al-Lamy.

He added that the extra ballot papers would not create opportunities for fraud because they would remain under the supervision of international and local monitors, as well as political party agents who will attend polling stations.

Al-Lamy said the last shipment of voting materials would arrive on January 28. It will include items such as ballot boxes, voting booths and banners to identify polling stations. Within the last week, an average of 22 flights a day have landed in Iraq, and the voting materials dispatched to 21 warehouses across the country.

The official noted that getting the material to Iraq has been a global effort involving countries on three continents.

The location of many of the 5,578 polling stations across Iraq has yet to be identified out of concern that they could be targeted by insurgents.

Once voting is over, Al-Lamy said, ballot papers will be transferred to 2,835 sites for the count. A special committee in each governorate and polling area will manage the count, and the results forwarded to election headquarters in Baghdad. There, a designated task-force of 200 election officers will sort the votes and recount them in the presence of international and local monitors, as well as political party representatives.

Initial vote counts will be announced on a daily basis until officials have a final tally.

At this point, political groups will be able to appeal the results to a legal committee. After review, any disputed votes will be recounted, the committee will make a ruling, and final results will be announced.

Zaineb Naji is an IWPR trainee journalist in Iraq.

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