ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Technical issues led a polling station in Duhok to register its first vote less than two hours before the closure of the stations as supervisors blame Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) for failing to fix the issue sooner.
On Saturday, the national elections took place in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, the first since the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) late last year. The polls opened at 7:00 a.m. across the country and closed at 6:00 p.m.
Unlike previous elections, a new electronic device was used in Saturday’s parliamentary elections to recognize election cards, fingerprints, and count votes—a system meant to make the process more efficient and prevent fraud from taking place.
But the new device slowed down the voting process and concerned many people as they had to wait for hours to cast their vote.
A polling station in the Begova community, located in Duhok Province, was one of the stations where many registered voters were unable to vote at due to technical issues with the voting device despite waiting in line for over 10 hours.
“I was the first person to cast my vote here, which was at 4:32 p.m. [local time],” a Kurdish man told Kurdistan 24 during a live broadcast at the Begova polling stations.
“I have been waiting in the queue since 7:00 a.m., but the polling station was not open until 4:30 p.m. due to a technical issue in the voting device,” he added.
Political observers who were monitoring the election process at that ballot station expressed their concerns and said out of 453 registered voters, only 50 to 60 of them were able to vote within the remaining one and a half hours when the devices began working again.
“Unfortunately, about 400 registered voters at this station alone were unable to cast their vote after waiting in the queue since the morning,” one of the observers, whose name was not mentioned, told Kurdistan 24 during a live broadcast.
“We blame the electoral commission [IHEC] for not resolving the issue with the device sooner. All of us, as observers, have issued complaints against the IHEC,” he added.
The voting time was not extended unlike in previous elections. On Saturday, polls across the Kurdistan Region and Iraq were automatically closed at 6:00 p.m. sharp as programmed by the electronic device.
During Kurdistan 24’s live coverage of the elections, many voters complained about the slow voting process.
Many of them were unable to vote at some ballot stations as the voting time was not extended beyond the deadline despite hundreds of people still waiting in line.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany