Monday, October 17, 2005

Ballot Stuffing In Iraq? I Am So Surprised...And So What?

Iraq's electoral commission said Monday it intended to audit "unusually high" numbers in results coming from most provinces in Saturday's landmark referendum on the draft constitution.

It appears that American-style democracy has finally come to Iraq...complete with the "mom and apple pie" tradition of slipping a few extra ballots into the box when nobody's looking.

Does this invalidate the election? Most certainly it will not. But an honest investigation might shed some light on the nascent growth of real, honest(sic)-to-goodness "plumbers" and "dirty tricks" units within the major political parties in the country.

Take Anbar province, for example, the most predominant Sunni population in the country.

Thus far, Anbar has reported voter turnout at 77-90% with 97% voting "No" on the new Iraqi constitution.

Former Baathist Party members are most certainly groaning today, dreaming of the "old days" just three years ago when Saddam Hussein managed to get a 100% voter turnout and a 100% voter approval rating, not only in Anbar province but in every other province in the country as well.

Other provinces with smaller Sunni majorities or near-majorities such as Diyala (Baqouba), Ninevah (Mosul) and Tamim (Kirkuk) appear to have approved the constitution by votes of 70% to 20%, 78% to 21% and 63% to 36% respectively.

If these totals are to be believed then it would indicate that half or more of the Sunnis in those provinces voted to endorse the constitution. This would make it all the more difficult to believe that 97% of Sunnis voting in Anbar province would have actually rejected it.

A quick tally of the preliminary, incomplete and unofficial voting reports (with most of the Kurdish, pro-constitution north and four southern pro-constitution Shi'ite provinces in the south not yet included) shows 2,917,000 (84%) of Iraqis voting "Yes" versus 570,000 (16%) voting "No."

I do not think that any amount of ballot box stuffing could change those figures enough to change the outcome. And remember, many of the most pro-constitution provinces have not even reported their vote results yet!

If this does not constitute an overwhelming endorsement of a freely-elected, democratic, representative and constitutional government by the people of Iraq then I don't know what else would.

If the Iraqi people, including Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurd, wanted to stick a finger in the eye of the terrorist thugs they could not have done so more clearly and decisively than they did this past Saturday.

In every election there is a winner and there is a loser.

Today, at least in Iraq, the al-Qaeda, fundamentalist, radical Islamicist, terrorist thugs are losers.