Israeli-Iraqis can vote in election

Iraqi election law doesn't bar dual citizens from parliamentary elections.

iraqi vote 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
iraqi vote 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iraqi law doesn't bar Iraqi dual-nationals, even those holding Israeli or Iranian passports, from voting in out-of-country polling stations for Iraq's upcoming parliamentary elections, a top Iraqi election official said Sunday. Hamida al-Hussaini, director of out-of-country voting in the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, told reporters that Iraq's election law says "anyone who carries an Iraqi citizenship has the right to cast ballot in the upcoming parliamentary elections." "The law doesn't state what could be done in the case of dual nationals," she said, answering a question on whether Israelis or Iranians of Iraqi origin can vote. She avoided specifically naming Israel and Iran. "How would we know about a person's other nationality? We will only be checking documents verifying Iraqi nationality," al-Hussaini said. Participation by Iraqi-Israelis - numbering an estimated 290,000 - is expected to be limited as there will be no polling stations in Israel and they must vote in another country, said Mordechai Ben-Porat, who led the Jewish underground in Iraq and helped organize the 1950s exodus of Iraq's Jews. "If there had been a polling station in Israel, I would definitely go," Ben-Porat said, adding Jordan will be the closest polling station. Two Iraqi-born Israeli journalists twice traveled to Jordan to cast votes in the last election to prove their Iraqi identity and then to vote, said Ben-Porat. Out-of-country voting in 15 designated countries starts Tuesday, two days ahead of the one-day of polling scheduled in Iraq to elect 275 representatives to a four-year term in parliament. Cameras are set to monitor ballot boxes in the different host countries during voting and the subsequent counting process and host countries will provide security at polling stations, al-Hussaini said. Expatriate voting results are expected to be announced officially in Baghdad near the end of December, she added. Al-Hussaini said $42 million has been allocated to the out-of-country voting program, which includes running 557 stations at 93 balloting centers in 47 cities worldwide, staffed by some 5,000 employees and 2,000 independent monitors. She said her budget was $30 million less than what was spent on the previous polls in January. Some 500,000 eligible Iraqi expatriate voters are expected to vote, double the turnout in the previous elections, she said. She maintained that Iraqis aged over 18 years and with valid citizenship documents can vote. The largest polling stations are in Iran and the United States because of the geographic distribution and the large Iraqi expatriate population in those countries, she said. Other nations hosting the expatriate Iraqi vote are Canada, Australia, Britain, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and United Arab Emirates.