Preliminary reports on the election in Iraq have been positive. An overview:
U.S. State Department spokesman Noel Clay said 5,171 polling centers — 98.8 percent of the 5,232 that were expected to open — actually did so…
Initial reports indicated voter turnout appeared to be higher than expected, even in Sunni-majority areas where insurgent attacks have occurred on a near daily basis.
Many voters proudly displayed their ink-stained fingers in defiance of the insurgency. Each person who voted dipped his or her finger in ink to prevent people from voting twice.
The IECI clarified an earlier estimate of a 72 percent turnout, saying that the “figures are only very rough, word-of-mouth estimates gathered informally from the field.”
“What is certainly the case is that turnout has exceeded expectations throughout the country,” the statement said.
U.N. election organizer Carlos Valezuela told CNN that though he was “happy with the turnout,” it was too early to report numbers…
In the so-called Sunni Triangle towns north and west of Baghdad, turnout appeared lower than in the largely Shiite and Kurdish provinces.
But Adnan Pachachi, a Sunni member of the former Iraqi Governing Council who had advocated a delay in the vote, said turnout in cities such as Mosul and Falluja “has been far greater than we had expected.”
Source article here.
There were attacks, of course, but the Iraqis were not cowed.
from the Washington Post via MSNBC.com:
“I would have been happy to have died voting at the time of this explosion, because this is terrorism mixed with rudeness,” said Saif Aldin Jarah, 61, a balding man with white hair who leaned on his daughter, Shyamaa, as he shuffled into the afternoon sunlight after casting his ballot.
“When terrorism becomes aimless and without a goal, it becomes rudeness,” Jarah said, holding aloft a finger stained purple with indelible ink. “How could they force people not to vote?”…
In the aftermath of a bomb attack on a polling place, the Iraqi people stepped up and took command:
“First, people want to stop this terrorism that’s breeding in this country. Second, the religious leadership wanted people to vote. And third, people have had enough of time wasted. They want to get their permanent government.”
So the polling place reopened. On the advice of the U.S. troops, the security perimeter was pushed back a block, so people could be frisked twice before entering the school.
Though performing this duty meant standing amid flecks of the flesh of the last officer who had the job, there were volunteers. In stepping forward to do the first round of pat-downs themselves, local residents explained that they could raise the alert if another suspicious stranger approached.
“The police might not be able to recognize residents; we know them better,” said Zaid Abdulhamid, an electronics merchant. He was stationed at the head of an alley blocked by the trunk of a date palm, the all-purpose roadblock in Iraq.
And in Mosul, the one of the hearts of the insurgency?
The large turnout seen in many parts of Iraq â€” and in many parts of Mosul â€” did not materialize in the southeast quadrant of the city. A month-long campaign of violence by insurgents in the Sunni Muslim neighborhoods of al-Whada and Palestine proved effective; a reporter who visited all four sites saw a total of four voters, all women. At 10 a.m., three hours after the polls opened, site No. 31, one of 40 in Mosul, had not had a voter except for 15 Iraqi soldiers who were protecting it. A cluster of men stood within 25 feet of the entrance, saying they were too frightened to go in…
“Of course I want to vote; we all want to vote,” said Mazahim Khalil, a professor at Mosul University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, after his house was searched. “We waited 50 years for this. But everyone is afraid.”
On a wall across the street from Khalil’s house was a warning in Arabic: “Anyone who votes will be beheaded.”
When the official numbers start rolling, in, I would be interested to compare them to our own recent elections. What percentage voted, under what conditions, and how?