Saturday, January 29, 2005

Iraqis Have To Wait Weeks For Election Results

Iraqis may have to wait weeks to learn the winners of this weekend's election, with guerrilla attacks and other factors expected to slow the vote tally, a foreign election adviser in said today. In the interest of transparency, some early results will trickle out as votes are counted, but Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission will not be able to declare winners until a painstaking count is finished.
Iraq's style of election makes it especially difficult to call the results quickly or to question voters leaving the polls to predict an early winner, as it is done in America. Iraqis will vote for a list of candidates rather than for individuals, with no possibility for split ticket voting. Seats in Iraq's 275 member National Assembly will be handed out according to the party's showing nationwide. This fact makes the last 10% of the votes counted as critical as the first 10%, the official said. The prime minister's job also hinges on the final count. The National Assembly will choose a three-member presidential council which in turn picks the prime minister. The prime minister and his Cabinet must be approved by the assembly. When voting finishes on Sunday night, election officials are supposed to count the votes at the 5,300 polling sites. Sometime later, they must physically deliver the totals to the electoral commission in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone. For security reasons officials won't say how those tally sheets will be delivered. Election officials do not yet know how long it will take workers in the Green Zone to count the results and name the winners. It's expected to take a week or more. It will be a matter of a few days before any data comes out and longer to declare any conclusive result. It could easily run to a couple weeks.