Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Iraq Election Tally Delayed; Turnout Far Less Than Reported

A couple of reports on progress in counting the votes in Iraq:

AP: Final Iraq Election Results Are Delayed

Knight-Ridder: Iraq Election results point to win for Shiite Muslim

Detroit Free Press: Sunni boycott shows success

The abstract: turnout for the Iraqi elections was not nearly as clean, or in the numbers, that both Allawi's regime and Bush's regime tried to foist on the world. On election day, here's what was predicted:

Iraqi officials have predicted that up to eight million of 14 million voters - just over 57 percent - will turn out for Sunday's election. Voters in the Kurdish-run north also will select a regional parliament.

And, if you recall, in the post election euphoria, the Iraq elections minister was claiming "72% voter turnout" (of course, ASZ election monitors immediately called bullshit on this specious number). Reality is setting in. After 10 days, here's the vote count:

A final vote tally was expected by week's end. But, with 4.4 million votes now counted, the Shi'ite coalition has won slightly more than half, and the Kurdish Alliance slightly less than a quarter, leaving the group headed by interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi trailing with 13 percent.

So, doing the quick math, there was actually a 31% turnout of "registered" voters (quotes around "registered", because 14 million was an estimate based on oil-for-food voucher lists). By any stretch of the imagination, 31% does not give the Iraqi election any degree of legitimacy.

It's certainly no wonder that the results are being held up. There's a long way to go in order to get within mortar range (much less spitting distance) of ballot totals representing 72% turnout (or even 50%, a pre-election benchmark which supposedly would have conferred a sense of election legitimacy). Diebold representatives, Kenneth Blackwell, and Katherine Harris are no doubt already enroute to ascertain the final numbers.

Of course, the Iraq Election Information Network has already declared the election, "free and fair". Funny, that. The UAE's Khaleej Times reports that not only was the Iraq election commission appointed by Proconsul Bremer before he fled Baghdad, but the commission has a history of playing fast and loose with numbers:

This lower figure assumes that there were just 14 million eligible voters. But the figure that was publicised earlier by the commission is 18 million. Similarly, only 265,000 exiled Iraqis, who together are estimated to have 2 million votes, cast their ballots.

In summary, to trot out one of the ASZ time honored phrases, "figures lie, and liars figure".