With 70% device failure

Election monitors’ report calls for manual recount at polling stations

BAGHDAD, December 17 — In a comprehensive oversight of the Iraqi Provincial Council Elections, the Alliance of Networks and National Organizations for Monitoring has reported a voter turnout exceeding 70% during the special voting phase, with 319 observers stationed across 221 electoral centers. The security measures and election preparations were commended for creating a safe environment and ensuring timely access to voting centers.

However, alongside the positive observations, the Alliance noted several critical issues that need immediate attention. Notably, the Alliance’s sixth recommendation underscores the urgency of ensuring the integrity of the count. They reported that electronic counting devices failed to transmit results at 70% of voting stations, potentially necessitating manual counting in the stations.

The Alliance has strongly advocated for the counting and sorting process to take place at the polling stations themselves, in full view of observers and political party representatives, especially on the day of general voting. This recommendation has been highlighted as a key factor to prevent a recurrence of the equipment failures experienced during special voting and to avoid the risks associated with transferring ballot materials to secondary locations for verification.

Report of the The Alliance of Networks and National Organizations on the Special Vote

The Alliance of Networks and National Organizations for the Monitoring of Iraqi Provincial Council Elections participated in the oversight of special voting centers across all provinces involved in the voting process. The monitoring covered 221 electoral centers, equivalent to 257 polling stations, with a total of 319 observers and 31 mobile teams involved.

The involvement of the Alliance’s monitors was based on the accumulated expertise of the networks through past electoral practices and the skills gained through both special and general courses participated in by the Alliance’s monitors in cooperation with all concerned parties. Consequently, the following observations were made:

– The provision of a secure environment ensured the safety of voters and electoral centers, with no significant incidents occurring—a commendable and observable fact.
– Election officials arrived at the polling centers and stations according to the timetable set by the Commission, with all necessary (sensitive) basic supplies for voting available.
– The presence of a register for special voting by military and security forces is a positive phenomenon occurring for the first time, provided that all names from the special voting register were deleted from the general voting register.
– The presence of monitors and political entity agents in centers and stations.
– Adherence to the precise schedule for opening and closing the doors of electoral centers and stations for voter participation.
– Selection of appropriate locations to accommodate the number of voters and their accessibility.
– The installation of cameras in centers and stations significantly reinforced adherence to procedures.
– The smooth voting process with turnout rates in special voting exceeding 70% according to our monitors’ reports.

– Based on our monitors’ initial reports, the following negatives were observed in some electoral centers, which constitute a breach of the fundamental principles and controls of the free voting process:
– It was confirmed that voters were accompanied by responsible officers who oversaw their voting performance and handled their return, which is considered compulsory voting and violates the constitutional right of the voter to exercise or abstain from their electoral right. It was also confirmed that ranks were informed of punishments in case they did not vote.
– The continuation of electoral campaigns in front of some electoral centers at a distance that directly influences the voter, along with the presence of some propaganda and advocacy for certain lists inside the polling stations, and cases of directing security forces to vote for a particular party or candidate.
– Allowing some voters to vote without verifying their identity or ID alongside the biometric card, or ensuring their finger is free of ink.
– Some centers and stations were unable to control the influx of security force voters, leading to the suspension of voting for several hours, with some tensions arising among some military personnel and representatives of entities.
– Preventing monitors from entering some electoral centers and stations.
– A number of electronic counting and sorting devices failed to store data and, therefore, did not send their results within six hours.
– Variability in the application of procedures due to insufficient training of Commission employees, or lack of impartiality in dealing with voters.
– The introduction of mobile devices and photographing of the ballot by voters and their dissemination, violating the principle of voting secrecy.

1. The Alliance sees the necessity to address the issues with electronic counting and sorting devices and to clarify the reasons for their recurring malfunctions and failure to send results.
2. An investigation should be opened to ascertain the reality of some ranks being forced to vote by officers, as this violates the constitution, law, and Commission’s controls by exerting pressure that infringes upon the voter’s freedom to vote without any influence, whether by enticement or intimidation.
3. It is essential to establish a clear principle that voting is a constitutional right of the citizen, who has full freedom to exercise or abstain from it, whether civilian or military, and no entity is allowed to hold them accountable for how they deal with this constitutional right.
4. It is crucial to prohibit any form of electoral propaganda outside or inside the polling center or station on voting day, in accordance with the Commission’s controls and international standards.
5. Monitors should be enabled to move freely and provided with suitable conditions for monitoring according to the regulation number 2 regarding the duties, rights, and obligations of monitors.
6. The Alliance of Networks and National Organizations for the Monitoring of Provincial Council Elections believes that the counting and sorting process should be conducted in electoral stations in front of agents and monitors, especially on general voting day, to ensure that the stoppage of devices as occurred in special voting is not repeated. If discrepancies occur, station materials, along with ballot boxes, should be sent to the subsidiary audit centers according to the law.