A Peshmerga official on Friday warned of a low voter turnout during Friday’s special vote due to the slow-pace of casting ballots caused by technical issues.
“There are a lot of issues with the voting process as the voting machines are slow to verify voters’ information,” the spokesperson of the Zerevani command forces Dedawan Khurshid said in a press briefing, saying casting a ballot takes three minutes in Erbil, Sulaimani, and Duhok.
Voting among IDPs took six minutes, the official reported.
Iraq is scheduled to elect a new parliament on Sunday under a new electoral law that was signed into law by President Barham Salih last November. However, security forces, IDPs, and convicts headed to the voting centers early on Friday to cast a ballot in a “special vote” across Iraq.
“The polling booths sometimes do not verify the voter cards. They need to try two or three times to make it verify the voter details. We do not know if it is because of poor quality devices or if the election commission employees lack [the required] skills,” Khurshid claimed.
“The other or the biggest problem is that of fingerprints… The device does not accept the voter’s fingerprint. We are seeing plenty of cases of this issue,” he added.
If these delays are not fixed, the “turnout will not surpass 40 percent,” according to the Peshmerga official. “We expected 250 voters to vote within an hour, but fewer than 100 have done so.”
Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) test-drove the country’s electronic voting system ahead of the elections. However, members of the Peshmerga are reportedly facing issues in verifying voter information.
There are over 3,200 candidates competing for 329 seats in Iraqi parliament. Nine seats are reserved for minorities and there are 67 candidates vying for these spots.
More than one million security members are eligible to vote but turnout is expected to be low because of fears of fraud and disillusionment with the political system.
The election is happening ahead of schedule after 2019 protests demanding an end to corruption and the provision of basic services brought down the government.
The United Nations said it would have a team of more than 800 people in Iraq to monitor and assist the national election commission for the elections. The European Union also has an 80-member strong monitoring team.
The massive international presence was requested by Baghdad, part of its attempts to address multiple security concerns and allay fears of fraud, vote-buying, and voter intimidation.