A Barrel Full of Silver Balls, and the Elections

When Iraqis arrive to vote in Governorate Council Elections on 20 April, they will receive ballot papers that list coalitions and political entities by name, by symbol, and by number. In this way, voters will have three different options to identify their choice of candidate.

This 3-way identification system is a common practice in many countries. It helps to ensure that all numeracy and literacy levels are catered for, and that all eligible voters can actively participate.

In Iraq, coalitions and political entities choose their own names, and their own symbols; however, in the interest of fairness, their unique numbers are allocated randomly, for each separate electoral event. The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) is responsible for this allocation, and conducts the process through a public lottery.

In Baghdad on Thursday, 10 January 2012, the lottery was conducted in the presence of the IHEC Commissioners and the UN’s Integrated Electoral Assistance Team (IEAT), as well as members of the press and representatives of political parties. A transparent rotating barrel sifted 139 silver balls, each marked with a unique 3-digit number destined for one of the 139 coalitions and political entities registered to stand in the April elections. One by one, the balls were drawn from the barrel and their numbers marked down as identifying codes for each of the registered entities.

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