Iraq Election Audit

The vote in Iraq is over. What is interesting is that the media coverage and statements from the Iraq Election Commission contain an odd mix of language and terms that, unfortunately, also resemble the discussions that came out of the 2004 election in the United States.

The odd disconnect is that the vote was yesterday, and there are some preliminary results but no final election results yet. In fact, ballot boxes are only now being shipped to the election commission in Baghdad. (A quick sidenote: ABC has a nice picture of the ballot box that shows the two primary security features of paper voting worldwide. The first is that the ballot box is sealed Note the red seal on the top middle of the top box being carried. Second, the ballot boxes are clear, so while it is possible to stuff the ballot box, the stuffing is more likely to be observed.)

However, there are already claims of fraud–too many voters turned out in many provinces–which are leading the election officials to conduct an audit of the results. In fact, election officials themselves are suggesting there was fraud. Aljazeera.Net is reporting a statement from the Election Commission stating:

“Despite its intention to announce global preliminary results as soon as possible, it (the commission) needs several more days to complete this difficult and complex operation after finding that figures from most provinces were too high,” said the commission’s statement in an apparent reference to turnout levels.

When the audit is done, election officials will:

“choose urns [ballot boxes] at random and examine them again, in particular where the figures were too low or too high compared with the general average. “The commission will only announce results when they have been verified.”

The Iraqi’s also have their own exit poll scandal (although I don’t know if they are having their own eruption in the bloggosphere to accompany it!). As Aljazeera reported:

While sources close to the electoral commission were quoted as saying that 55% of voters in Nineveh governorate had said “no” to the constitution, the secretary-general for the Iraqi Independent Front, Abd al-Razaq al-Jiburi, said more than 75% of voters had voted “no”. “Figures from many polling stations suggest the percentage of those who have voted ‘no’ to the constitution ranges from 75% to 80%. “Observers and employees at the electoral commission provided these figures,” al-Jiburi added. Asked why most observers expect Mosul to be crucial to the referendum’s outcome, al-Jiburi said: ”It is true that Mosul is a decisive factor given that two governorates, Salaheddin and Anbar, have rejected the constitution – there is no room for controversy over their results. As for Mosul, if there is no fraud in the counting of the city’s votes, the final outcome will be a ‘no’ for the constitution.”

In short, we promised the Iraqi’s an American election, and we delivered!