Iraqi voter cards being sold illegally: Report
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An underground market involving the selling and purchasing of voter cards has emerged ahead of the Iraqi elections, as some parties warn of the possibility of mass voter frauds.
The voting system ahead of the May 12 parliamentary elections has been changed to an electronic one. However, the possibilities for fraud still linger.
According to a report published by local Kurdish news agency Kirkuk Now, some people are willing to sell their voter cards despite the possibility of severe penalties by the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) for such crimes.
In March 2018, a spokesperson for the IHEC said anyone caught committing fraud during the polls would receive a prison sentence of up to 15 years—this includes political parties and candidates.
From the start of the election campaigns until now, hundreds of sales and trades involving voting documents have been made by individuals who are dissatisfied with the current political climate, Kirkuk Now reported.
An unnamed card dealer told the news agency that he buys up to 25 cards a day. “Some days, people come to me with 50 cards belonging to their whole family.”
The report said instances of voter card sales are common in Iraq’s economically weaker regions and communities.
Political parties in Kurdistan have responded to rumors of voter fraud. The Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) Election Committee said they have received reports of the possibility of massive voter scams.
The KDP Election Committee expressed its worry of a larger scale problem in the forthcoming election but said it was on high alert about the possibility of fraudulent activities during the election.
Jalal Qadir, a member of the KDP Election Committee in Sulaimani and Halabja, told Kurdistan 24 that unused voting documents from the 2014 Iraqi parliamentary elections were being used by some parties to increase their votes in the May 12 poll.
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s (PUK) media spokesperson, meanwhile, rejected any fraudulent activity by their party in the upcoming election.
Twenty-seven political parties in the Kurdistan Region are competing for 46 seats in the Iraqi Parliament.
A total of 3,144,730 people in the Region are eligible to vote.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany