About 30% of ballots submitted by Iraqi-Americans are being rejected in Arbil, Iraq's headquarters for the Out-of-Country Voting (OCV) program. The U.S.-based Iraq Elections marked the third-largest OCV voter turnout worldwide.
Arbil is still receiving the U.S. tally by electronic submission from each of the centers, including Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, and Arizona. Center Directors from across America have been directed to throw away ballots for unknown reasons.
In the Michigan centers, 2,000 out of 6,100 ballots in the Warren location were rejected by Arbil, and 700 out of the 3,000 ballots in the Dearborn location were also rejected. In Arizona, 600 out of the 2,400 ballots were rejected. In Chicago, 1,100 out of the 3,500 ballots were rejected. All of these locations contain a high number of Iraqi Christian voters.
Although Iraq Christians showed two forms of identification before voting, Arbil has not indicated why ballots have been denied.
"They allowed the voters to come in to vote just to appease them at the time, to prevent fighting," said Detroit's Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Representative Alan Mansour. "But now their voice will not be heard, and they feel they voted."
Many of the votes rejected were from Christians, Iraqi's indigenous population who has been the target of attacks in northern Iraq.
The validity of votes from California is still pending word from Arbil.
All Political Party Observers have started demonstrating outside of the Bella Banquet Hall, which is the voting center for Warren, Michigan.
By Alan Mansour
Assyrian Democratic Movement, USA and Canada