Less than half of Iraq’s eligible population voted in national elections, according to official tallies of the first national poll since defeating Islamic State.
Iraq’s electoral commission said that results of the election to fill the country’s 329-seat parliament are expected within two days.
Officials said that just 44 percent of eligible voters cast ballots on Saturday — the lowest voter turnout since Saddam Hussein was ousted in 2003. Polling station officials blamed low turnout on increased security around measures, voter apathy, and irregularities linked to the new electronic voting systems.
As voters cast their ballots Saturday, airports and roads were shut down for security purposes. Last month,elements of IS still operating in Iraq, despite their military loss, threatened to attack anyone “participating in the elections.”
While the overwhelming number of polling places around the country remained safe, early in the day an attack was reported south of the oil city, Kirkuk, a bomb was discovered at a polling place in Baghdad, and other reports of attempted attacks surfaced.
Incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is running for reelection. Other leading contenders include former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki and Hadi al-Amiri, one of the leaders of the Hashd Shaaby, the primarily-Shiite military force that supported Iraqi forces in the fight with IS.
Heather Murdock contributed to this report.