In push to issue biometric voter cards ahead of election, IHEC cancels cards issued between 2013 and 2017[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
SULAIMANI — Ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for early June, the Board of Commissioners of Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) said on Tuesday (December 28) that it will cancel voter cards issued between 2013 and 2017 and start a push to replace them with long-term biometric voter cards next month.
The new cards will be issued from local IHEC offices starting on January 2 and the distribution push will last until February 2, IHEC said in a press release.
The electoral commission urged voters to check their registration status on its [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] to determine whether they need to pick up new cards.
Additionally, citizens whose voter status has changed, for instance if they have joined or left the security forces or no longer qualify as an internally displaced person (IDP), or have moved to new electoral districts should update that information at their local IHEC office.
Those who are not yet registered to vote or have attained voting age since the last election can also register and submit their biometric information at the office.
IHEC said that the decision was made “to ensure the integrity of the electoral process and limit fraud,” which has been a common problem historically in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.
Short-term biometric cards were introduced ahead of the [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] as a way to ensure that voters were only casting one ballot. The new long-term biometric cards will replace those distributed between 2013 and 2017.
Using the single, long-term biometric card as a means to vote also supplants a hybrid system where voters could bring multiple forms of identification and be allowed to cast a ballot.
Some voters obtained the long-term cards ahead of the 2018 elections, but there are worries that those who voted using the hybrid system will have trouble voting in the 2021 election if they do not get the new cards.
According to a [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] issued by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) on December 11, however, 11.3 million voters out of 26.6 million still do not have biometric records.
Progress issuing new cards has been slow so far, UNAMI said, with “a weekly average of only 7,200 voters coming for biometric registration and about 44,000 cards distributed weekly” through early December.
The need for voters to obtain the new biometric cards is an added complication for voters who are also contending with a new electoral system, which the Council of Representatives passed this year.
Unlike the previous system of party lists and eighteen multi-member districts based on Iraq’s governorates, the country is instead now divided into 83 smaller, multi-member districts.
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