Robert Tagorda writing at OTB has some numbers to help put the upcoming Iraqi vote into perspective.
- More than 14 million Iraqis and over 280,000 expatriates are registered to vote.
- Approximately 6,000 voting centers span Iraq.
- Expatriates cast their ballots in 14 different countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iran, Jordan, Netherlands, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kindom, and United States.
- There are 256 political entities recognized to participate: 27 individuals, 33 coalitions of parties, and 196 parties.
- There are 18,900 candidates competing in 20 different elections: the national election, the Kurdistan election, and 18 provincial elections.
- There are 60 million individual ballot sheets and 90,000 ballot boxes in Iraq.
- More than 200,000 Iraqis have signed up as poll workers or monitors.
- About 200 Iraqis will “put together the final tally of the [voting] results” in Baghdad headquarters.
- Forty UN electoral assistance officers will provide technical support.
- About 65% of Iraqis are “very likely” to vote; 17% are “somewhat likely.”
- In Baghdad, 58% are “very likely”; 17% are “somewhat likely.”
- In Kurdish areas, 74% are “very likely”; 18% are “somewhat likely.”
- In Sunni areas, 21% are “very likely”; 32% are “somewhat likely.”
- Among Shiites, 77% are “very likely”; 14% are “somewhat likely.”
- Among Kurds, 71% are “very likely”; 19% are “somewhat likely.”
- Among Sunnis, 20% are “very likely”; 29% are somewhat likely”; and 29% are “very unlikely.”
There are some qualifiers and he lists all his sources.
But I think there is more to it than just numbers… Those numbers represent people.
When we talk about winning the “hearts and minds” I bet the election will be a turning point for many people. This is not the first election in Iraq… It is just the first one where you could vote for anyone but Saddam Hussein and not get shot.
I don’t live in Iraq so this is only speculation but I bet as many people walk into the voting booth and for the first time their vote actually means something, that it will “hit them.” They’ll finally “get” what it means to be free.
I remember the first time I voted… I felt 42 feet tall. Likewise I remember bringing my nephew into the polling booth with me and teaching the next generation how it all worked. Call me corny, but I felt 43 feet tall.
I can’t help but believe that same feeling will infect millions of Iraqis on Sunday.
And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
Update: If you liked Robert’s numbers, Eric over at Slowplay went hypersonic with it.