Iraqi Voter Turnout

Short Debate.

  1. Predict Voter Turnout.

  2. What turnout do you think is neccessary in order to validate this election?

  3. Could a high outcome legitimize US involvement?

My answers:

  1. 67%

  2. 60%

  3. Yes.

grienspace: 2. What turnout do you think is neccessary in order to validate this election?

Is there a reason why we should think that the validity of the election depends only on the size of the turnout? I’m more troubled about the fact that so many candidates have felt compelled to run anonymously in order to avoid assassination attempts, and that it’s consequently so difficult for voters to get information about the different political options. As a recent article by Salim Lone noted,

I mean, at least three of the candidates have already been killed, the borders are closed, and extended curfews are in effect. Is this really a free, fair, democratic election, even if more than 60% of voters actually go to the polls?

In any case, I don’t think it’s our opinion of the elections’ validity that’s going to be important here.

In addition to a good turnout, they’ll also need to be evidence that the political process has a direction. With over a hundred groups on the ballot, and the names of potential officeholders not widely known, there’s a good chance that any sign of direction for the country will be swamped by noise.


  1. 50% or less.

  2. Any turnout. If only, say, 10% show up, I imagine it will be those 10% that decide who wins. I can’t see us going “OK, people, that election was just for practice, the REAL election will be in March!”

If there is a pitiful voter turnout, then the Iraqi people will begin to learn Lesson One of Democracy: you don’t get to bitch if you’re too lazy to vote. :slight_smile:

  1. No. Those who think the US should never have done this will continue to think so regardless. Those who think the US was right to do this will continue to think so regardless.

It’s worth reminding that the election is not about choosing a Grand Poo-Bah Leader of Iraq, but of simply electing a 200±member council who will serve as an interim government while a Constitution is drafted and all that other long, tedious, boring stuff gets hammered out.

Not that it’ll stop Bush from claiming “Mission Accomplished” again, though I suspect he’ll have enough sense to leave the banner in the closet this time…

New Zogby Poll January 28th:
Survey Finds Deep Divisions in Iraq; Sunni Arabs Overwhelmingly Reject Sunday Elections; Majority of Sunnis, Shiites Favor U.S. Withdrawal, New Abu Dhabi TV / Zogby Poll Reveals
More on the poll at Juan Cole

With the population being 60% Shiite, 20% Kurdish, and 20% Sunni, that works out to a projected voter turnout of 61%.

Iraq’s president acknowledges that talk is cheap:

  1. I guess that much less than half of those eligible will indeed vote. Those that do will probably pass on the “I voted” sticker.

  2. I don’t think any turnout will validate the election. When people don’t know who they’re voting for and where to go and they might get killed if they do, it’s not quite the same as a free and honest election.

  3. No. Nothing that can happen now would justify the invasion and occupation.

To be fair, I’m sure many who won’t vote aren’t refraining out of laziness, but fear of the terrorists (they’re terrorists, not insurgents- someone using violence to prevent election-participation is a terrorist).

I hope for at least 50%, optimistically expect 40%, & agree on 3. Assuming that there are indeed no WMDs (and that they just haven’t been very well hidden), I think we still should have done something to remove Saddam but I’m not sure if the War as we’ve pursued it should have been the way. Imagine my surprise to find that I am only slightly to the Right of Robert Redford on this issue.

The worst problem with respect to “legitimizing” the outcome, is the fact that Sunnis will be underrepresented in the vote. This phenomenon will be closely watched. I think the OP should add something about Shiite / Kurd / Sunni turnout to the poll. I propose:

1a. Predict Shiite, Kurd and Sunni turnout.

My bet:

  1. 63% (overall)
    1a. 75%, 75%, 15%

  2. Sunni > 40% (I think the actual legitimacy in practice is going to be determined by how the majority parties are going to accommodate Sunni influence anyway, in spite of low Sunni turnout)

  3. No.

This is a vote to create a legislative branch which will in turn formalize a constitution and vote in a PM. The lack of Sunni involvement in this stage can be dealt with through assignment. While this hurts the image of Sunni representation it will be the following election that determines whether or not they accept the transition.


  1. 69% overall
    80% Shiite, 65% kurd 40% Sunni (based population est of 60%/20%/20%)

  2. Depends on the level of violence but 50% is a start.

  3. Doesn’t matter. Positive credit will never be acknowledged.
    This seems high but I base this on recent Shiite clerical edicts (to vote) and Sunni involvement in the former socialist Baath party. Religion will drive the one, and lifestyle will drive the other. The Zogby poll for Kurds just doesn’t look right.

I would like to add that, despite the threat of death, I expect the turnout to be better than the average US election rate of 50%.

  1. Hell if I know.

  2. The problem isn’t overall numbers; it’s the differing attitudes of the different components of the Iraqi population towards the election.

  3. There’s nothing that could be done now to retroactively legitimize our invasion.

I think these are the wrong questions altogether.

Now this is fun… I would have bet more Sunni turnout (30%) but I reduced it after reading the Zogby poll. I hope I’m wrong.

I think Zogby is wrong…hell, they have been wrong before (note Bush has been re-elected :)).

Overall I predict 70% of the total population will vote.

Depends on what the Iraqi’s think validates it (or doesn’t validate it). After all, Clinton was elected and less than 50% of the voters voted…and he was certainly a valid president. I don’t think the numbers alone are going to either validate the vote or not validate the vote.

No number will legitimize the US involvement IMO…or NOT legitimzie it. Its a separate issue IMO. If it was wrong to invade Iraq then nothing that happens makes it right…it just might mitigate things if it all works out, but it will never be legitimate. If it was right for the US to invade than it doesn’t matter if the election was a complete flop…it was still the right thing to do.


1. Predict Voter Turnout.

I’m guessing about 20%. In Sweden, less than 25% exile Iraqis in Sweden have registered for voting. Among all exile Iraqis, it’s less than 20% – and that’s (mostly) without the security problems in Iraq…

2. What turnout do you think is neccessary in order to validate this election?

What Kimstu said. But if it goes above 60% I’ll call it a hopeful sign for possible future valid elections.

3. Could a high outcome legitimize US involvement?

What? Why? Do you mean legitimize the war? No, of course not.
What would have gone a long way towards validating the war – or at least have made me admit (with relief) that I was far too pessimistic beforehand: In five or ten years a reasonably stable, mostly human rights respecting, somewhat democratic Iraq, with a total body count (from the onset of the war) significantly lower than a continuing Saddam regime.
[highjack, but related to the topic]
Does anyone know or guess why voters in exile have to register and vote in person? When we have elections in Norway, voters can vote by mail. But for the Iraqi election, exile voters have to travel in person to the closest polling place. They also had to travel in person to register. And the closest polling place can be several hundred kilometers away (there are none in Norway, and only two in Sweden), so voting is very time consuming and expensive.

This evening, Dan Rather informed us from Iraq that we’re ready to spin a 20% to 30% turnout as a victory for freedom and democracy.

What secret documents did he glean that nugget from?

20% to 30% is a crushing landslide avalanche of a victory! 10% to 20% will be pretty doggone good, gosh darn it, because fledgling democracy is messy and chaotic. 0% to 5% will be a defeat. Well, really, more like a temporary setback, because freedom is on the march. Less than that, that would be a defeat.

And if its higher, what does he have to say about that? At what point does Danny Boy (the pipes the pipes are playing) Rather think it WILL be a ‘victory for freedom and democracy’? Talk about poisoning the well. Oh well…it IS Dan Rather. :wink: