Iraqis are electing new provincial councils in the first nationwide vote in four years, with the Sunni minority expected to turn out in strength.
Sunnis largely boycotted the last ballot. Correspondents in Baghdad, where there has been a total ban on vehicles, said voting started slowly.
The vote is seen as a test of Iraq’s stability ahead of the next general election later this year.
Security is tight and thousands of observers are monitoring the polls.
Up to 15 million Iraqis are eligible to cast votes.
“This is a great chance for us, a great day, to be able to vote freely without any pressure or interference,” a Baghdad voter identified as Hamid told Reuters news agency.
Another voter said he had not slept in order to be first at the polling station.
When I read those comments from the Iraqi voter I couldn’t help but think about these reports from previous elections in Iraq in which Saddam Hussein won with 100 percent of the vote. Many Democrats would die before admitting it, but Iraq is a better place today than it was under the evil regime of Saddam Hussein and his sadistic rapist sons. There is still a long way to go until the country is stable and safe, but it is free and conditions there continue to improve. I sincerely hope the new administration does everything necessary to see progress there continue. Sadly I am not optimistic in light of recent news.