Iraq’s Displaced Voters

To the Editor:

In addition to arranging out-of-country voting for Iraqi expatriates (“Iraq Expatriates Sign Up to Vote in 5 Cities in U.S.,” front page, Jan. 18), it is critical to ensure that the one million Iraqis displaced within the country are able to vote on Jan. 30.

Though voters are entitled to cast their ballots in the national assembly election regardless of where they are in Iraq, internally displaced voters face a number of practical obstacles. Many of the more than 200,000 people recently displaced from Falluja were unable to register to vote before the deadline. Other internally displaced persons have lost personal documentation while fleeing or as a result of destruction to their homes.

Additional problems arise in the governorate elections, which lack provisions for absentee voting.

The disenfranchisement of Iraq’s displaced persons will pose challenges to their return and also raises questions about the legitimacy of the electoral process over all. Both of these consequences could have significant repercussions for long-term stability in Iraq.