Tuesday, October 18, 2005

In 12 provinces 99% vote in favour of Iraq's new constitution? Vote fraud?


The New York Times, 17 October 2005, reported that Iraqi election officials were investigating what they described as "unusually high" vote totals in 12 provinces, where as many 99 percent of the voters were reported to have cast ballots in favor of Iraq's new constitution.

In a statement released this evening, the Independent Election Commission of Iraq said the results of the Oct. 15 referendum would have to be delayed by "a few days," because the apparently high totals in favor of the constitution required that election workers "recheck, compare and audit" the results.

The Sunnis, who widely opposed the new constitution, fear the new charter will pave the way for a breakup of Iraq and deprive them of oil resources in the north and the south of the country. The constitution will fail if two-thirds of voters in at least three provinces block it; Sunnis dominate 4 of Iraq's 18 provinces.

Members of the Iraqi election commission declined to speak about the announcement of the investigation. But an official with knowledge of the ballot counting said that the 12 provinces where the "yes" votes exceeded 90 percent all had populations that were either majority Shiite or Kurdish. Leaders from those communities strongly endorsed the proposed constitution. More than one of those provinces, the official said, reported that 99 percent of the ballots counted had been cast in favor of the constitution.

None of the provinces cited for a closer look had Sunni majorities.

"When you find consistently very, very high numbers, then that is cause for further checking," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the information. "Anything over 90 percent either way usually leads to further investigation."


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