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Chicago Area Iraqis Vote, Complain About Election
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Glenview, ILL -- Iraqis in the Chicago area are eager to vote in their country's parliamentary elections, but they claim election shenanigans prevented many eligible Iraqi citizens from getting to the polls.

Eligible voters were required to cast their ballots at a martial arts center in the far back corner of a Glenview industrial park. Some complained the polling place was hard to get to and had little parking.

"People in chicago, they support 389," George Sheena said, describing the ballot number for a bloc of candidates. "That's why they made it difficult for us to come here so we won't vote."

Most Iraqis living in Chicago are Assyrian Christians, a minority in Iraq that has been oppressed for hundreds of years.

Nerary Yousif said that oppression is now taking place at the ballot box.

"This is just dirty politics played by -- to be blunt -- Kurdish officials in northern Iraq to keep our people down, to keep us from voting," he said.

Iraqi election officials would not let reporters inside the polling place, but a number of people claimed they were not allowed to vote because of problems with their paperwork.

After two hours in line, Jimmy Goreel said he was ready with a back-up plan.

"Hopefully they will recognize me from 30 years ago," he said, holding up a yellowed Iraqi passport picturing him as a young man. "If it's not, i've got my American passport."

At stake in these elections are 325 seats in the Iraqi parliament.

Election officials said they agree the location was less than ideal, but by the time complaints started, it was too late to change.

By Steve Chamraz

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