And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
- Luke 11:9-10
Iraqi Officials Cite Rise Of Interest in Elections
Sunday 2 January 2005, 9:22 pm
Keywords: Computer Topics
, News Articles
In Final Week, Many Act to Ensure Registration
By Karl Vick
BAGHDAD, Jan. 1 -- The number of Iraqis making sure they are properly registered to vote has surged dramatically, officials said Saturday, calling the rise evidence of enthusiasm for the Jan. 30 elections despite continuing security concerns that have blocked the process in two provinces.
After a slow start to the six-week registration process that began Nov. 1, the number of voters making corrections to official voter lists more than doubled in the final week, according to a final tally quoted by election officials Saturday.
Because Iraqis do not have to take any steps to register to vote -- food rationing accounts serve as voter rolls -- requests for corrections are essentially the only gauge of voter involvement in the registration process for the Jan. 30 election.
The nationwide tally of corrections leaves out two predominantly Sunni Muslim provinces where insurgents have prevented the interim government and U.S. military forces from establishing control. In Nineveh province, which includes Mosul, and Anbar province, where Fallujah and Ramadi are located, voters will be allowed to establish their credentials on election day, officials said.
Both provinces remain relative strongholds for insurgents, who mount daily attacks on U.S. and Iraqi government forces.
In such Sunni provinces where insurgents remain active, the level of voter preparation will remain unknown until officials break down the nationwide tally by province, which could take several more days. But in a poll for the International Republican Institute, more than 40 percent of residents surveyed in Sunni areas said they did not intend to vote.
Among Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority and ethnic Kurds, more than 90 percent strongly intended to vote, according to the survey. Most Kurds follow Islam's Sunni branch but identify themselves by their ethnicity.
Concerns persist that the new constitution will be framed by a parliament dominated by Shiites and Kurds, at the expense of Sunnis.
The prospect of such an outcome brought a flurry of reports that U.S. policymakers might coax Iraqi officials to set aside additional seats in the new parliament for Sunni representatives. The idea, however, brought a torrent of criticism from Shiite leaders.