Iraq and Gulf Analysis

An Iraq Blog by a Victim of the Human Rights Crimes of the Norwegian Government

The Mathematical Parameters of the Baghdad Recount: Can the Result Really Change?

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 3 May 2010 11:22

Almost two months after Iraq’s 7 March elections, the provisional result has yet to be certified. There are two legal processes going on that prevent certification: The decision by the electoral judicial panel to de-Baathify around 60 candidates retroactively (even though they appeared on the ballot and received thousands of votes), and the green light that was given for a manual recount of 2,4 million votes in Baghdad, which is due to start today… Full story here.

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14 Responses to “The Mathematical Parameters of the Baghdad Recount: Can the Result Really Change?”

  1. mostafa said

    Hi Reidar,
    I am wondering how do you think that political American intrusion into the judicial court decisions could be positive.
    Do you think that USA & UN prefer one iraqi bloc to the others?
    and if the answer is yes who do you think they prefer?

    If SLA wanted to adulterate the democratic process why couldn’t they change the results by fraud (they have the power to do that) instead of using these unpopular and far less effective ways?

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Mostafa, I think this is a good move because apparently it is not going to favour any particular party but will simply help speed up the certification process and get real-world negotiations going so that Iraq can once more have a democratically controlled government, answerable to an elected assembly.

    As discussed many times before, SLA is thought to have less influence in IHEC than INA/KA/IIP; rather it is some of the branches of the judiciary (including the electoral judicial panel) that have produced a number of remarkable decisions in favour of SLA more recently.

  3. Rachel said

    The rationale behind the post-election de-Baathification is probably not to effect the actual outcome of the vote, but a show of power, demonstrating an ability to delay the process until the party’s demands are met.

  4. Jason said

    Thanks for the report, Reidar. If it wasn’t for your posts, we would be left totally in the dark and with the impression that Iraq is falling apart. I am pleased that the US and UN are finally taking a stand that no votes should be discarded. That seemed so patently obvious, it should have been made clear a long time ago.

  5. Reidar Visser said

    Jason, thanks, I should add that when I finally managed to find a relevant White House press release for this, it was slightly less explicit than what the Iraqi press initially claimed had been said after Biden and Melkert met.

    According to Iraqi newspapers, there has been a statement by the US Embassy Baghdad to the effect that Biden and Melkert said “all votes cast in the election should be respected”, which would serve as a pretty sharp and unambiguous warning against the idea of annulling votes.

    وقال بيان للسفارة الامريكية :” ان بايدن التقى ملكرت نهاية الاسبوع الماضي وبحثا الدور المهم للأمم المتحدة في العراق واتفقا على الحاجة إلى النزاهة والشفافية في العملية الانتخابية “.

    واضاف :” ان الجانبين دعيا بصفة خاصة ، إلى اتباع الخطوات السليمة في العملية واحترام كل الأصوات التي أدلى بها الناخبون العراقيون

    That was certainly how it was interpreted in the Iraqi press, with headlines like this:
    بايدن وملكرت يدعوان الى احترام جميع الاصوات التي ادلى بها الناخبون العراقيون

    (“Biden and Melkert Calls for Respect for Each and Every Vote Cast by the Iraqi Electorate”)

    The White House press release seems somewhat softer in tone because the adjective “all” has been omitted, “In particular, they called for due process and respect for the votes cast by the Iraqi electorate”.

    Nonetheless, in the present circumstances and in the context of the ongoing dispute, bringing up the idea of respecting the electorate can hardly be construed as anything other than a warning against the outright cancellation of votes.

  6. TR Slacker said

    Reidar –

    At this point in the sad chapter known as the American Experience in Iraq and with the 2011 departure date looming, is the US red line inviolable? A year or two ago I would have said no, but now I am not so sure. What do you think?

  7. Reidar Visser said

    It is not something I know a great deal about but my impression is that Washington is extremely focused on 31 August 2010 and adhering to that timeline, and somewhat unfocused on potential problems after 31 August related to the remaining forces, the definition of “residual forces” etc. But let’s get back to the manual recount! They did 600 stations yesterday so it will probably take som 10 to 20 days to do this if they continue at that pace.

  8. Salah said

    وقال القيادي في دولة القانون في مؤتمر صحفي حسين الشهرستاني ان ائتلاف دولة القانون يرفض اجراءات المفوضية العليا المستقلة التي تريد استغفال المواطن العراقي من خلال مطابقة عدد الاصوات في الصندوق مع الاستمارة 501 و502 دون الرجوع لسجل الناخبين وهذا امر خاطىء اذ يجب ان يعودوا الى سجل الناخبين في بداية الامر اذ يمكن ان تكون هناك اوراق اضيفت في المحطات الى الصندوق.
    واضاف: تفاجأنا بان مفوضية الانتخابات لا تطابق عدد الاوراق الموجودة في صناديق الاقتراع مع سجل الناخبين الذي يوضح توقيع الناخب.
    واوضح الشهرستاني ان المفوضية ولاسباب نجهلها لم تفتح سجلات الناخبين و اسماء الذين صوتوا ومقارنتها مع الاوراق الانتخابية في صناديق الاقتراع للتأكد مع مطابقة العدد ما بين السجلات وصناديق الاقتراع.
    وتابع: ان دولة القانون قدمت امس شكوى على المفوضية العليا المستقلة للانتخابات لعدم اجراء هذه المطابقة بين اوراق صناديق الاقتراع والسجلات وننتظر من الهيئة القضائية النظر في هذه الشكوى. وعبر الشهرستاني عن استغرابه الشديد من اصرار المفوضية على هذا الاجراء.
    وتابع: ان الامر الثاني الذي نطعن به هو عدم سماح المفوضية لمراقبي دولة القانون بالدخول الى قاعة العد والفرز اليدوي بحجة انه لم تكن هناك هويات صادرة لهم بالرغم من اننا قدمنا 250 طلبا لاصدار هويات للمراقبين قبل اسبوع ولم تقم المفوضية باصدارها.
    واشار الشهرستاني الى ان اجراءات المفوضية هذه مطعون بها وليست معبرة عن قرار الهيئة القضائية.

    http://www.sotaliraq.com/iraqnews.php?id=63240

  9. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, to be honest, the part of the SLA complaint that relates to checking voting registers against the number of votes in each ballot box does not seem unreasonable if there are no double-checks on this in place already. From what I understand, they merely check whether the data that has been entered into the IHEC database corresponds with what is actually in the box, and if there is no check against the registers at any point then the theoretical possibility of adding votes would have existed although I am sure there must have been a minimum of measures in place (i.e. to make sure there are no polling stations producing more votes than registered voters for example).

    The more important point, as I see it, concerns the general futility of the Baghdad recount in terms of what kind of changes it can realistically produce.

  10. Marwan H said

    The types of election fraud that you have mentioned in this analysis are highly unlikely as you have already pointed out. However, there is a much greater probability of election fraud taking place in the Data Entry Centre (DEC), which is what the recount of Baghdad Governorate will confirm or deny. The recount will allow a reconciliation between:

    1) IHEC values
    2) Forms 501 and 502 (used as the basis of the declared results)
    3) Ballot papers

    The IHEC has relied on Forms 501 and 502 as the basis of the count in the DEC. These are much easier to manipulate on a larger scale, and may even change the result. This will be evident in the coming days/ weeks when these values are reconciled.

  11. Marwan,
    That’s very interesting information, do you have more details without jeopardizing the process? Like the extent of UN access and the degree of awareness of various parties?

  12. Marwan H said

    Faisal- It is known that the UN is effectively running the elections in Iraq. I don’t believe anyone within IHEC would go against an advisory from the UN support team in Baghdad. Why do we have so much faith in the UN, when we know of it’s corruption and outside influence?

  13. Marwan,
    I don’t have “so much” faith in the UN but let’s not throw the baby with the bathwater. Can you see something bad with “the UN effectively running the elections in Iraq”? Do you think it will be better without?
    I only think the UN overseeing should be made official, which does not cost much more than what we have right now.

  14. Marwan H said

    Faisal- I think the UN should have no place in the Iraqi elections, except in pre-implementation planning. As far as the UN interference in Iraq goes, I lost faith in them after they imposed genocidal sanctions, extorted unreal compensation payments TO Kuwait, chased after invisible weapons of mass destruction and not forgetting their corrupt legacy in the Oil for Food programme.
    The solution is a totally transparent election process, which like many things in Iraq, is only a hypothesis.

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