I’m in awe. Somewhere between 8 and 10 million Iraqis turned up to vote this past weekend. That amounts to 57 to 72 percent of Iraq’s 11.4 million eligible voters.
Compare that to the 60.0% voter turnout for the 2004 U.S. presidential election. But in that comparison, don’t forget to consider:
- Iraqis were threatened with beheading if they showed up to vote. This was no idle threat. At least three poll workers and the governor of Baghdad were killed in attempts to stop this election.
- Iraqis couldn’t drive to or from the polls because of security regulations.
- Many Iraqis had to stand in long lines, outdoors, and vulnerable to attack.
- Iraqis had to dip their fingers in ink that would brand them as voters (and potential targets) for up to three days.
We don’t yet know who won the election. We won’t ever know what motivated individual voters; some may have cast their vote to speed the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. That works for me. What we do know is that a large percentage of Iraqis were willing to risk their lives to cast their votes.
I say let’s celebrate this great moment in history.