News

Program Scrambles to Prepare Overseas Iraqis for Upcoming Elections

An estimated one million Iraqis living outside Iraq are expected to take part in the country's elections for a transitional national assembly at the end of this month. 

The International Organization for Migration's Iraq Out-of-Country Voting Program is working to inform and register Iraqi expatriates who are eligible to vote. 

From Amman, Jordan, the program's spokeswoman Monique De Groot said potential voters must be at least 18-years-old, prove their identity and show evidence of their Iraqi nationality.

"Iraqis must be able to prove their eligibility with at least two documents that have been issued by a state, or a state agency or an international institution," she explained.  "Such documents could be a passport, a marriage certificate, a military document, or a driver's license."

She added that security is a legitimate concern at polling stations outside the country, as well.

"I'm not saying that we do expect security problems, but security is an obvious issue that we have to take into account very seriously, with implementation of the operation," she added.  "So, we do work very closely together with the host government on the issue and their particular department within the government, to take care of public security."

Iraqis overseas must register in person, at polling stations in cities in 14 different countries.  These countries are Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iran, Jordan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

Registration lasts  a week,  from January 17 to January 23.  After that, registered voters overseas must return to the polling station to cast their ballots from January 28-30.

Mohamad Hanon, an Iraqi adviser to the program in the United States, says he thinks his fellow Iraqis are, in his words, "excited and eager" to participate.

"For them, it's historical and it's the very first time for them to exercise their democratic right to decide who is going to run the country," he noted.

Mr. Hanon says he does not know whether most members of the Iraqi community in the United States are Arabs or Kurds, Christians or Muslims, Sunnis or Shias.  But he says he believes the overseas bloc will be an important voice in the overall results.

"Over the course of years, during the Baathist regime, during Saddam's period, iraqis have fled, a large number of Iraqis fled the country," he said.  "The numbers are said to be somewhere between three and five million expats.  So, given that number and given how many people are going to vote, I would say there will be a significant influence or impact on the election, itself."

In the United States, polling sites will be set up in five cities -- Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; Los Angeles, California; Nashville, Tennesee; and Washington, DC. 

One potential voter is Sarhad Jammo, the Iraqi-American bishop of a Catholic Chaldean church in San Diego, California.

Bishop Jammo says there are 30,000 ethnic Iraqis living in the San Diego-area, all of whom want to exercise their rights to participate in the democratic process to build a new Iraq.  He adds, though, that many of them believe it is not fair that the nearest polling station to his city is three hours away by car.

"And that will create in the heart of the people a feeling of frustration and of, just, protest, and maybe boycotting it [the election] because they say that's what they [the organizers] want," he said.  "They want to bar us from going to polls."

The U.S. spokesman for the Iraq Out-of-Country Voting Program, Jeremy Copeland, says the U.S. cities were chosen based on concentration of the local Iraqi community there.

"We think about one-third of Iraqis, just over one-third, actually, are around Detroit and places like Southfield and Dearborn [Michigan]," he explained.  "We're looking at probably about 125,000 Iraqis there.  Also, a large population in Chicago.  There's a significant population in Nashville, Kurdish, in particular.  Also a large population in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as [Washington,] DC.  And, then, there are pockets all over the place -- New York, Washington state, Texas, Arizona, Nebraska."

Mr. Copeland said Iraqis often raise questions about the voting center locations at town hall meetings that have been held in the five U.S. cities.  But he added that potential voters also want to know more about the elections themselves, and the more than 100 political groups that are slated to run.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs