google-site-verification: googled3ad79e48fba1031.html Iraq Sees Record-Low Voter Turnout in First Post-IS Poll – Raidar Gist
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Iraq Sees Record-Low Voter Turnout in First Post-IS Poll

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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.

Early results showed low voter turnout, reflecting disillusionment with a series of governments after decades of corruption, wars and economic crises, May 12, 2018, in Irbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq. (H. Murdock/VOA)

Early results showed low voter turnout, reflecting disillusionment with a series of governments after decades of corruption, wars and economic crises, May 12, 2018, in Irbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq. (H. Murdock/VOA)

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.

People are lined up as security forces secure the area outside a voting station in Khazir refugee camp, east of Mosul, northern Iraq, May 12, 2018. (K. Omer/VOA)

People are lined up as security forces secure the area outside a voting station in Khazir refugee camp, east of Mosul, northern Iraq, May 12, 2018. (K. Omer/VOA)

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.

FILE - Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the expert level of the international conference on Iraqi economic development in Tokyo, April 5, 2018.

FILE – Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the expert level of the international conference on Iraqi economic development in Tokyo, April 5, 2018.

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.

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