Iraq has adopted a new electronic system for voting this election and President Fuad Masum is confident it will prevent potential voter fraud. The old system was arguably vulnerable to external manipulation on multiple levels throughout the voting process. President Masum told local press that, “When it is manual, an extension of one hour [for voting] might be given and votes might be manipulated then. Then they transport it to provinces and then from there to Baghdad. Manipulations may take place along this road as well. The newly instated electronic system prevents such manipulation.” His comments were made after attending a meeting at the presidential palace held with high-ranking officials from the electoral commission; Vice Presidents Ayad Allawi and Nouri al-Maliki were in attendance as well.
The new electronic-based system is equipped with fingerprint biometrics that will prevent tampering or electoral fraud by any given individual. All electoral data and individual voter information will be transferred via a secure connection to a single source — the electoral resource center in Baghdad. It has been projected that voting results will be available within 24 hours of the polls closing. Despite all this, the security and defense committee within parliament has forewarned that a few political parties may attempt to defraud the system in some provinces; should an electronic device be damaged or rendered inoperable, voters will be forced to vote via hard-copy and that could leave room for the same vote manipulation Iraq has seen in the past. Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission member Kulshan Kamal al-Bayati told local media that, “The device checks the voter’s fingerprint and prevents acts of fraud. That will stop the kinds of electoral fraud we saw in previous elections, where people were voting twice for their parties.”
Iraq’s electoral commission continues to insist that electoral fraud cannot occur under the use of the new electronic system. The Iraqi government purchased the new electronic voting devices, nearly 50,000 in total, and operating software from an unnamed South Korean company. The South Korean government and the Korean International Cooperation Agency signed a memorandum earlier this month with the KRG to assist in governmental modernization, claiming the driving motive for the effort was to prevent corruption. Parliament’s electoral council made the decision to implement the new electronic system after parliament amended the current law regarding voting in Iraq. The deputy head of the electoral commission, Rizgar Hama Mihaddin told local media that, “There is no going back on this.”
The adoption of the new process is a big first step into not only rehabilitating the nation of Iraq post-Islamic State conflict, but also a leap toward elevating its legitimacy within the international community. Making progress toward eliminating government-related corruption in Iraq is a desperately needed goal if the nation and its people wish to be treated as serious participants in world politics. Hopefully with these types of steps, a better economy will develop in its wake. Currently, Iraq is ranked 12th from last in world corruption ratings released by Trading Economics.