Iraq's Electronic Elections

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Iraq has spent $135 million on a new electronic voting system to speed up the announcement of their upcoming election result, from what used to take a week, to a few hours once the polling stations close.

On May 12, eligible Iraqi voters will head to their respective polling stations and will cast their vote using a new electronic voting system.

15 years since the end of Saddam Hussein’s regime, the voters’ purple fingerprint became a proud symbol of a newly, democratic Iraq. The ink-stained finger was used during the elections to show who had voted in order to avoid fraud. Now the country is turning to technology to endorse the newly elected government of 2018 (Public Radio International).

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Iraq’s Chief Electoral Officer of the Independent High Electoral Commission, Riyadh al-Badran told Reuters that not only will the system speed up the process of announcing the results, but also: “We will have results that accurately reflect the will of the voters.”

Of the 37 million Iraqi citizens, 24 million are eligible to vote during this May election. 

The new voting system will

Carsten Schuermann, an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen and the leader of the interdisciplinary DemTech research project investigating how technology in elections affects trust, said to WikiTribune that, based on his research,  while electronic voting can foster trust in the elected body but it does not fix everyone. He said: “These post-conflict countries or developing countries, they’re struggling to actually make an election that is credible…The main thing in an election is that the people trust the outcome. That trust gives legitimacy to the elected body. Without that trust, you don’t have very much.”

He added: “I think many countries are looking at technology to solve some of the systemic problems of the respective elections but at the end, some have figured out that technology has introduced a complete different set of challenges that they didn’t anticipate before.”

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