Firas Hamdani Internally displaced people [IDPs] in Iraq can participate in the upcoming election in four different methods, among them is conditional voting. IDPs, now more than two million in number, are classified into four different categories in this year’s parliamentary election of 12 May in Iraq; to take part in the process, some receive biometric cards, some electronic cards, others with temporary cards or conditional voting. Resident of Kirkuk and civil servant Taghrid Sabah said, “We did not expect to go to polls, but know that we know we can vote, we will take part in the process to elect our representatives to parliament.” She was told that she can participate through conditional voting, and she should bring an ID on the election day. Khalaf Awad Obeidi is another IDP from Hawija district (55 km southwest of Kirkuk) which takes part in the voting through the same method of conditional voting. He said, “I’d like to take part in the election to determine my representative in parliament.”
We did not expect to go to polls, but know that we know we can vote, we will take part in the process.Conditional voting, a method for many IDPs due to losing officials documents and old voting cards, is a method where any IDP can vote in the election through an ID with their photo on them, where a special form about their background is collected and only later they can cast their vote. Director of Media and Public Relations in Kirkuk Office of the Independent High Electoral Commission in Iraq [IHEC], Abdulbasit Darwesh, explained that conditional voting for IDPs and prisoners aims at a large participation in the election, along with providing people with their right to determine their representation. In all Iraq, more than two million and 200 thousand people live as IDPs in the camps, or far from their home residence, according to the latest statistics of the International Organization for Migration [IOM]. Samr Naji, born in 2000, is happy that he has reached an age where he can take part in the election process. As an IDP, he has been assured of his ability to participate through receiving the temporary voting cards. Temporary Voting Card is a single-serving ID for those IDPs who can take part in the elections for the first time, and to some of those who have enough official documents, while not being able to issue other voting cards. Nur Hussein, a university student and IDP in Kirkuk who stays in the dormitories, said she can take part in the elections through temporary cards, although she has not decided yet, “I and those in my age, are disappointed at the performance of the former parliament and government cabinets, as they failed to materialize our wishes.” IHEC’s Kirkuk official elaborated that temporary voting cards is issued for the age-range of 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 who have not gone to registration offices. Abdulbasit Darwesh also explained that some other people and IDPs receive biometric voting cards, after renewing their registration. Those who do not visit IHEC can also vote through the same card issued for them five years ago.
From the total of 10 million biometric voting cards, seven million is distributed and given to people.The new biometric voting card is registered through taking fingerprints with the photo and name of the voter, but the old cards do not have any photo on them. Deputy director of IHEC revealed that more than 10 million biometric voting cards are printed, and from this number, seven million have been distributed as the rest will be given to people up to next month. According to a statement by IHEC, a contract has been signed to print another five million biometric voting cards to those who have not renewed their voting information, in order to be distributed before the election time, 12 May. According to the first amendment of the parliamentary election law of 22 January 2018, the central government is obliged to implement eight points to regulate the process, among them is to return the IDPs to their homes, and guaranteeing the participation of all citizens in the election, along with setting up polls for refugees in different provinces. Saeed Kakaiyi member of Commissioners Council at IHEC said in a statement that the decision to hold the renewal of biometric card is made from early April until 31 May 2018, in order to accelerate the process of distribution of existing issued cards. The decision was made after relevant parties were in an argument about the voting process of IDPs, accusing IHEC of slowing down the process, although political parties were in contention concerning voting methods for IDPs and were in two opposing camps. Along with the IDPs of ISIL raids and their attacks, hundreds of other families were displaced from Kirkuk and other disputed areas in Ninawa and Salahadin provinces due to the developments of 16 October 2017, in which Iraqi army returned and peshmerga withdrew. Conditional voting for IDPs and prisoners is aiming at guaranteeing a large threshold of participation in the elections.
Conditional Voting for the IDPs and prisoners aims at a large participation in the election.IHEC rejects to set up ballot boxes for IDPs of 16 October and later, outside the premises of their original provinces. IHEC’s director of Media in Kirkuk Office insisted that the residents of Kirkuk who currently reside in other provinces of the Kurdistan region have to return to Kirkuk for voting. Tens of thousands of voters from Kirkuk and other provinces of Iraq, who were forcibly evacuated by Baath regime led by Saddam Hussein prior to 2003, or reside in different locations for myriads of reasons, must vote in their own provinces and areas. The population of Iraq has passed 37 million and from this number, 24 million people are eligible to vote in parliamentary elections, for 329 seats.