An overview of the Iraqi elections law
How to vote and what is a semi-electronic voting system?

The parliamentary elections scheduled for May 12 will be held in accordance with the Iraqi Elections Law No. (45) issued by the Council of Representatives in 2013, after being amended twice since early January 2018. Despite the heated debate the legislative body had witnessed during the amendments between different parliamentary fractions and blocs and boycotting several sessions, the council voted on the second amendment of the law. In less than two months, Iraq will held the fourth parliamentary elections since the fall of Saddam Hussein's former regime in 2003; according to statistics released by Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), 24,033,494 people are eligible to vote, including 3,300,000 news voters who will be voting for the first time and born in (1998, 1999 and 2000) The number of electoral alliances approved by the country's highest electoral commission has reached 27 electoral alliances formed by 143 political parties. Furthermore, 204 factions participate in the elections in separate lists apart from these alliances. The electoral commission has said it has taken new measures, such as the installation of biometric registration, which began in 2014 and lasted for 37 months; meanwhile, it also adopted a semi-open voting system. What are the changes in the election law and how do you vote? In the first amendment to the election law, any candidate wishing to be elected as a lawmaker has to hold bachelor's degree or its equivalent as a requirement to be eligible for nomination but in the second amendment the electoral lists were allowed to enlist a percentage no more than %20 of holders of preparatory degrees or their equivalent as candidates in their lists or alliances.

"Counting and sorting ballots are electronic, but not voting."
In line with IHEC's guidelines, eligible voters will start to cast their ballots from 8:00 am Baghdad time on May12 and the process will until continue until 6:00 pm. In the process, voters elect their representatives based on an open list system which allows voters the right to vote for a list or an enlisted candidate as well as an individual candidate since the open list provides the opportunity for an individual candidacy Voting will be semi-electronic, so the voter gets the ballot paper and votes manually, but the counting process is conducted using the electronic results accelerator.
Halabja, Iraqi parliamentary elections in 2010, a woman looking for her name in voters' lists: Photo by: Metrography agency
                      Casting ballots has previously been manual in which the votes were counted by the election commission staff at the polling stations, where representatives of the political lists should be present; Later, the ballot boxes were transferred to IHEC's headquarters. "Counting and sorting the ballots will be conducted electronically, not manually; however, when is necessary for the verification in case of problems, the votes  will be counted manually  and the lists' representatives write their final reports," Saeed Kakayi, a member of the Iraqi High Electoral Commission, in an interview, told KirkukNow. The Commission seeks through these measures to reduce cases of fraud and manipulation of the ballots, especially after a number of lists and political entities complained of violations in a number of areas across Iraq in the previous elections. "There is no method or device that can %100 prevent breaches and violations but theses electronic system can contribute in reducing violations and counterfeiting," added Kakayi . How the parliamentary seats are distributed between the country’s provinces? All parliamentary seats are distributed between 18 electoral constituencies which is the number of Iraq’s provinces, deciding that votes of one constituency are not counted for another, in accordance with the Iraqi elections law. The allocated parliamentary seats of the Iraqi parliament per province: Anbar 15, Babil 17, Baghdad 69, Basra 25, Duhok 11 , Dhiqar 19 , Diyala 14, Erbil 15, Karbala 11, Kirkuk 12, Maysan 10, Muthanna  7, Najaf 12, Nineveh 31, Al-Qadisiyah 11, Saladin 12 , Sulaymaniyah 18, Wasit 11. The current round of the Council of Representatives consists of (328) seats, but the number of seats for the next round  will be 329, after the allocation of a quota seat  for the Faily Kurds in Wasit province in the second amendment to the elections law. (320)  of the parliamentary seats are divided between the provinces according to administrative boundaries; the extra (9) seats  are allocated per quota system for the minorities; five for the Christians, while each of the Sabean-Mandaeans, Ezidis, Shabak and Faylies is entitled to a seat. According to the article 49 of the Iraqi Constitution, the Council of Representatives shall consist of a number of members, at a ratio of one representative per 100,000 Iraqi persons representing the entire Iraqi people. They shall be elected through a direct secret general ballot. The representation of all components of the people in it shall be upheld. The controversial Sainte-Laguë method: According to Iraqi election law, the seats are allocated to the competing lists according to the modified electoral system dubbed "Saint Lego Method". The systems entails dividing the correct votes for competing lists into single digits (1.6, 9, 7, 5, 3, etc.) and the number of allocated seats to the constituency. A number of blocs in the parliament Iraqi Council of Representatives have voiced their concern about Sainte-Laguë method as it favours the larger lists; however, Said Kakayi, the top IHEC official said they denies the allegation, emphasizing that this system isn’t solely implemented in Iraq, but rather in most of the democratic countries around the globe.

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