Iraqi Voter Turnout Lower Than In 2005?
It’ll take about a week before we learn the results of Saturday’s provincial elections in Iraq. But until then, a really excellent blog, Musings On Iraq, has emerged this election cycle as a valuable resource, obtaining, aggregating and posting specific, deep-in-the-weeds information about this year’s provincials. And today the blog finds something surprising:
[T[he early returns show a lower turnout than the last time Iraqis voted on provincial councils in January 2005. At that time, 58% of Iraqis, over 8 million out of approximately 14 million people cast ballots. That included out-of-country voting in fourteen nations where 280,303 Iraqis registered. It also included a massive Sunni boycott, where only around 2% showed up. The first counts for the 2009 vote have 51% turnout with around 7.5 million out of 14.9 million registered voters participating. If those numbers hold it could be a disappointing finish as Sunnis were expected to come out in large numbers having regretted their 2005 boycott.
Why the apparent drop-off? Musings On Iraq speculates that it’s the result of disillusionment with the government’s ability to meet Iraqi expectations. But who knows — there could be other factors at work. One possible contributor, as NPR reported this morning, is that thousands of Iraqis displaced during the sectarian conflict in recent years were removed from voter rolls after failing to properly re-register to vote when they returned.
Also, as the results come in, the voter turnout figures could rise. If they don’t, though, perhaps the provincials won’t be the watershed many had hoped they’d be.