11 January 2005
Election Officials Reach Out to Expatriate Iraqi Voters
Town hall meetings, media campaigns aimed at educating voters
By David Shelby
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington â€“ Election administrators in charge of out-of-country voting (OCV) for the upcoming Iraqi elections are reaching out to expatriate Iraqis through media outlets, community organizations and the Internet as the voter registration period approaches.
â€œWe rely very much on media, on community leaders to give us help disseminating the message to voters,â€ says Svetlana Galinka, head of voter education for the OCV program in the United States.
Speaking at a press briefing January 11, she said the OCV offices in the United States have already begun conducting town hall meetings in the five U.S. cities designated as voting locations.Â
Election workers are also placing radio and television ads with media outlets that reach the Iraqi community and are distributing posters and educational literature in mosques, shops, restaurants and â€œeverywhere else Iraqi people go,â€ she said.
She added that voters can also access information on the programâ€™s Web site, http://www.iraqocv.org/.
Roger Bryant, who heads the OCV program in the United States, said that the Iraqi citizens living in the United States are very interested in the elections and excited at the prospect of voting.
Mohamad Hanon, a program consultant, said that the interaction between the Iraqi-American community and the program organizers has been â€œamazing.â€Â He said he was impressed by â€œhow much support and effort is put in by the community to help the program.â€
Voter registration for the OCV program begins January 17 and will be open for seven days.Â Voters will be able to return to the voting centers between January 28 and 30 to cast their ballots.
Out-of-country voting is being conducted in 14 countries with large Iraqi populations.Â All eligible voters will be able to cast ballots in the election for the Transitional National Assembly, the 275-seat national legislature that will draft Iraqâ€™s new constitution.Â Iraqis voting at OCV sites will not vote in any of the provincial races.
Expatriate Iraqis who do not live in one of the 14 designated countries may travel to one of the OCV locations at their own expense in order to participate.
According to Iraqi electoral regulations, anyone born on or before December 31, 1986, who can demonstrate a legitimate claim to Iraqi citizenship is eligible to register and vote.
The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) charged the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with administering the OCV program.Â Out-of-country voting is being conducted in Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iran, Jordan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The IOM estimates that the 14 countries designated as OCV sites might have as many as 1 million Iraqi expatriates who are eligible to participate in the elections.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
This page printed from: http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2005&m=January&x=20050111180600ndyblehs0.8117945&t=livefeeds/wf-latest.html
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