Reports about voting machine malfunctions in Dhi Qar; IHEC proposes an alternative
Category: Iraq News
Shafaq News/ Voting machine malfunctions emerged in five centers in Dhi Qar, south of Iraq, and the voters left without casting their ballots.
Eyewitnesses told Shafaq News Agency that a group of citizens who appeared at the ballot centers in Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar's capital city, this morning were not able to cast their ballots because the voting machine failed to recognize their fingerprints.
Nine malfunctions were identified in five ballot centers in the Sayyid Dakhil district, east of the governorate, Eyewitnesses reported. IHEC teams began the repair work to put the broken down machines back to service, however.
Many voters, including large families, left the ballot centers after the machine failed to recognize their fingerprints.
Shafaq News Agency correspondent said that an entire ballot center in al-Hay district in al-Kout is out of service due to technical issues.
The Spokesperson to the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) in Dhi Qar, Raed Aziz, told Shafaq News Agency, "if the ballot machine did not recognize the fingerprint of the voter, the process can be resumed by scanning the barcode of the biometric ID."
Various Irregularities marred the morning of the general election day in several ballot centers, observers reported less than three hours since the beginning of the polls.
Observers informed Shafaq News Agency that the ballot center at the Salam elementary school in Fallujah, east of al-Anbar, has not opened yet, and the observers were denied access without providing an explanation.
Al-Maghira ebn Shouba ballot center in the Five kilos territory, Ramadi, also has not opened until the moment, observers reported, in spite of the heavy security deployment nearby.
Similarly, l-Amjad and al-Salam ballot centers in Ramadi, the capital city of al-Anbar, were not accessible until 0730, half an hour from the specified time for opening the ballot boxes.
Observers reported similar incidents in north Baghdad, Babel, and Kirkuk.
Shafaq News Agency reached out to the office director of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) in al-Anbar, Nusret Eyad, and other officials in the electoral districts where the Irregularities took place, but they refused to comment.
In the same context, the Governor of Erbil, Omed Khoshnaw, said earlier today that "voters faced problems in Pirmam, Mergasur, Khabat, and the governorate center. The Kurdistan Regional Government has communicated with IHEC to resolve those issues."
In a statement to Shafaq News Agency, IHEC Spokesperson Jumana al-Ghalay, "the election is going transparently, and the turnout is good."
"A balloting device failure is not uncommon. Technical teams are there to fix any dysfunction swiftly without halting the polls," she elaborated, "the Commission recruited a cadre of specialist technicians from IHEC itself, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Communications available all over the country to address any issues that might emerge."
"With more than one hundred employees in the national headquarters on board, we established direct communication channels with all the ballot centers to respond to any dysfunction that might occur."
"IHEC has devised alternative plans and can replace any device that might cut out or dysfunction during the voting process," she stated.
Since 0700, voters headed to the polls to elect a parliament that many hope will deliver much needed reforms after decades of conflict and mismanagement.
The vote was brought forward by six months in response to a popular uprising in the capital Baghdad and southern provinces in late 2019, when tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest endemic corruption, poor services and rising unemployment. They were met with deadly force by security forces firing live ammunition and tear gas. More than 600 people were killed and thousands injured within just a few months.
A total of 3,449 candidates are vying for 329 seats in the parliamentary elections, which will be the sixth held since the fall of Saddam Hussein after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
More than 250,000 security personnel across the country were tasked with protecting the vote. Army troops, police and anti-terrorism forces fanned out and deployed outside polling stations, some of which were ringed by barbed wire.
"Get out and vote, and change your reality for the sake of Iraq and your future," said Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, after he cast his ballot at a school in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, home to foreign embassies and government offices.
"To those who hesitate, put your trust in God and go and choose those you deem appropriate," he added, reflecting concerns over a low turnout. "This is our opportunity."
The 2018 elections saw just 44% of eligible voters casting ballots, a record low. The results were widely contested. There are concerns of a similar or even lower turnout this time.