Special voting for Iraq’s early election ends; IHEC reports 69% turnout

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Special voting in Iraq’s early elections officially ended at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and the electoral commission reported 69 percent turnout. 

As many as 1,196, 524 members of the Iraqi and Kurdish forces as well as displaced persons and prisoners were eligible to cast ballots in 2,086 polling stations during the special voting day, according to Iraq’s electoral commission.

The electoral commission said on Friday night that 821,800 voters cast their ballots in Friday’s special voting.

Esta Media Network’s reporters said voter turnout across Iraq for the special voting had reached 75% in Erbil, 69% in Duhok, 78% in Sulaimani, 85% in Halabja, 62% in Kirkuk, and 90% in Raparin administration.

The IHEC said earlier on Friday that the results would be announced 24 hours after the general election on Sunday.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi hailed the security forces for casting their ballots, saying all procedures were in place to ensure its integrity.

“This is the first step towards a successful general election. Voting is a fulfilment of our national duty & our means of achieving change,” he said in a tweet.

Iraqi voters are to elect a new parliament on Sunday in the fifth such vote since a U.S.-led invasion toppled dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

This year nationals living abroad will not be voting.

A total of 329 seats are up for grabs in the election, which was moved forward from 2022 as a concession to youth-led pro-democracy protests that erupted in late 2019.

There are fears voter turnout could drop below the 44.5 percent figure registered in 2018.

More than 25 million citizens are eligible to vote. They are supposed to present a biometric card for what was conceived as a fully electronic voting process.

More than 3,240 candidates are in the running, including 950 women.

One quarter of seats are reserved for female candidates, and nine for minorities including Christians and Yazidis.

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