Monday, January 23, 2006

International Investigation Into Election Fraud

The final results of the election were expected last week, but delayed to allow for an independent investigation by the International Mission for Iraqi Elections (IMIE) into allegations of election fraud. The IMIE released its report on 19 January, saying that fraud had indeed taken place. "Some 2,000 complaints were submitted alleging a wide range of electoral violations and irregularities that include ballot-box stuffing and theft; tally-sheet tampering; intimidation; violence; voter-list deficiencies; shortages of ballots; multiple voting; improper conduct of the police and Iraqi National Guard; voting by security forces [twice]...campaigning within polling centers; and nonobservance of the silent day," the report noted. The IMIE stopped short, however, of calling for a rerun of the parliamentary elections in affected areas of the country.

The report did express concern over the IECI's decision to cancel the 227 ballot boxes, saying the decision also led to the annulment of legitimate ballots. "Canceling ballot boxes without a new election being called in the affected area is particularly regrettable in an electoral system of list proportional representation where the number of votes required to win or lose a seat may vary from governorate to governorate as well as from a given seat to another seat." The report called for future legislation to explicitly authorize and specify "the conditions under which revoting should be used...for particular polling centers in which fraud, irregularities or other circumstances have been determined to have significantly distorted the election results." The final report praised voter turnout on election day, and commended the IECI for its "cooperation, transparency, and responsiveness." (By Kathleen Ridolfo. Published on 20 January.)

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