Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Giving everyone from Iraq a voice...

With only a month and a few days until Iraq's next election, this time for a government that will rule for 4 years, could this happen again? I'll have more reporting on this in the following days. Friends in Iraq tell me it is one of the most under reported parts of the election there, and with over a million voters worldwide outside of Iraq eligible to vote in Iraq's elections, it certainly can make a difference in the outcome there.

Excerpt from the article referenced above, from Iraq elections of January 05:

Organizing polling stations for Iraqis in the U.S.


MARGARET WARNER: This is the largest expatriate, out-of-country voting effort ever. A U.N.-sponsored group based in Switzerland has set up polling sites in 14 countries around the world.

There are just five sites in the United States: in or near Detroit; Chicago; Los Angeles; Nashville; and Washington, DC.

There, under rules set by Iraq's electoral commission Shiites and Sunnis, Christians and Kurds who fled their homeland during Saddam Hussein's regime or earlier, may vote in Iraq's first free election in at least 50 years.

DHANYA AL-GASSID: We've never had the chance or the opportunity to vote back in Iraq so we're a little excited about this. It's new and everyone's doing it; it's awesome.

MARGARET WARNER: Even if they are American citizens -- as most are -- all Iraqis in the U.S. can vote if they can prove they or their father were born in Iraq.

Election officials say there are some 240,000 U.S. Iraqis who are eligible to vote under the rules.

But proving eligibility hasn't always been easy. This man drove from Nebraska to Chicago to register.

OFFICIAL: If you have the documents at home, you can come back with them.

IRAQI: I'm from Nebraska.

MARGARET WARNER: What's more, the rules require two visits -- the first one to register; the second one, during three days over this weekend, to vote.

Kurdish émigré Daoud Ismail took the first step last Saturday. He and four carloads of friends drove six hours to the Washington area site in New Carrollton, Maryland.

DAOUD ISMAIL: We came all the way from Connecticut about 2 o'clock in the morning; we drive all the way down here to register ourself for election of Iraq.

MARGARET WARNER: Yet by the time registration closed Tuesday night fewer than 26,000 Iraqis in America had signed up. Just 11 percent of the eligible pool.

That, considering what our troops are fighting for there, is a travesty in my mind. And, from what I could gather for information, was mostly due to a lack of information and a lack of organization. Let's make it a little easier for them this time, shall we? Possibly not using a UN based group in Switzerland to make all of the decisions might help. (Yes, that's heavy sarcasm you hear.)

2 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

It's a travesty indeed. But, I'd wager Muslims living in Western countries have an even greater potential for voting extremist than the ones actually living in Iraq.

So possibly it's a good thing (yes, that heavy cynicism there).

2:59 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

If only 10% of eligible Iraqis have registered, then there should be two or three times as many voting sites. People shouldn't have to drive 10 hours or more, four times, to be able to vote.

6:14 PM  

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