Polls open until 6 p.m.

Early voter turnout slow in provincial council elections

December 18 — Iraqis headed to the polls on Monday as voting stations opened at 7 a.m. across 15 governorates and leaders urged the country’s 15 million eligible voters to cast their ballots for provincial council cadidates.

Dozens of residents from Karbala’s Tuwairij district flocked to polling stations early to cast their votes.

Meanwhile, in the Yarmouk area of Baghdad, citizens arrived slowly at polling centers on the Karkh side of the city. Voter stations there, however, reported no issues.

Polling station in Diwaniyah governorate witnessed a moderate turnout. Images released by the Diwaniyah Police Information Department showed relatively low numbers arriving at the voting centers in the early morning hours. Security forces were actively involved in securing polling stations and conducting inspections before allowing entry.

In Fallujah, stations opened their doors with tight security measures in place. Images there showed dozens of voters arriving at the polling stations as security forces distributed Iraqi flags to some of the voters.

Tikrit recorded a limited turnout, attributed to the cold weather and dense fog. A number of city residents, where 750,000 people are eligible to vote, confirmed the challenging weather conditions.

Streets in the city of Anah, in western Anbar, appeared deserted with few cars and pedestrians during the first hour of voting. Candidates’ posters were still visible near some polling stations, and voter turnout remained very limited until 9:00 a.m.

Hillah’s 150 polling stations appeared nearly empty at opening as the Independent Higher Electoral Commission (IHEC) and government officials urged citizens to collect their voter cards and participate in the election.

A musical ensemble affiliated with the Diyala Police Command was present near a polling center in the center of Baqubah town to encourage and motivate residents to participate in the elections there.

Further south, polling centers in Basra opened their doors to a ceremony featuring national songs and stringent security measures.

Voter turnout was low in Maysan where citizens will cast their ballots for 13 provincial council members from 178 candidates representing 12 lists. Among the seats is one allocated through a political quota system for the Sabean Mandaean minority group.

Community police units participated in the opening ceremonies of polling stations in Nasiriyah, where streets across Dhi Qar remained open, except for local streets outside polling centers.