After a long and heated debate between various political parties throughout Kurdistan, the election commission has decided they will not be using the electronic voting machines for during the next election; which is in September. All votes will be counted manually again due to widespread criticism and accusations of fraudulent voting practices. The electoral body of Kurdistan held a meeting this week and reached the conclusion that the electronic voting system should be replaced by the old way of doing it manually. All 9 electoral body members that are part of the commission’s council determined, “not to use the electronic system for voting and counting votes, [and to] instead count the votes manually like before,” according to the commission’s spokesman, Sherwan Zirar. The casting and counting of ballots electronically has not gone over well for Kurdistan and given the new track record, it is unlikely they will be attempting to modernize in this manner again anytime soon.
The various Kurdistan political parties that organized to force this investigation were Gorran, the Kurdistan Islamic Movement (IKM), the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), Komal, and Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ); none of them are particularly strong or influential in the Kurdish political arena. The group of officials got together and wrote a letter to Kurdistan’s electoral commission. They claim the outcry was, “for the purpose of regaining people’s trust and our keenness for the democratic process of Kurdistan. Under no condition should electronic smart ballots or scanners be used for counting the votes in elections because the Iraqi parliamentary election of May 12 was the worst election in the history of the new Iraq and Kurdistan,” read the letter. They claim the electronic voting is a “dangerous method” that leads to fraudulent practices and that Kurdish officials do not have the experience required to operate such devices.
Iraq has spent over $100 million on the electronic voting machines to negate fraudulent voting practices. It claimed the new system would be a fool-proof way to ensure a good clean election. This hasn’t stopped various political parties from coming forward to complain of lost/stolen election results and vote manipulation. The electoral commission of Iraq has yet to respond to the claims and will not be doing a recount manually.
The various parties that are arguing against the electronic voting wish to meet with the electoral commission prior to any preparations for the September elections. The claim they have a vested interest in improving Kurdistan’s democratic system. They jointly stated that, “We will undertake all legal and civil pressure, and we won’t remain silent on any act or position that will hurt the electoral and democratic process in Kurdistan.” Supposedly the collective is thinking of boycotting Iraq’s elections in protest should nothing be done regarding their complaints. They have demanded a complete re-vote for the Kurdistan region as well as any disputed areas such as Kirkuk.
Featured image: Rawah, Iraq (Dec. 15, 2005) – An Iraqi woman prepares to cast her voting ballot into one of the bins after filling it out at a polling site in Rawah, Iraq during the country’s first parliamentary election. Iraqi citizens elected their first permanent parliamentary government, which will lead the new democracy for the next four years. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Shane S. Keller [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons