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Global News Blog

Voting Is in Vogue in Iraq

By Jane ArrafCorrespondent / January 29, 2009

Reporters on the Job: On Nov. 4, I cast my ballot in the US presidential election while at home in Washington. Everyone who voted was given an ‘I voted’ sticker, which most people stuck on their jackets. It got them a free donut and coffee in some places in my neighborhood as well as the collective feeling of doing something that mattered.

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In Iraq’s provincial election, the badge of honor, even courage, is the ink-stained purple finger.

An election alone does not a democracy make. But it does make for a life-affirming event, even if you’re a reporter covering it.

The Iraqi soldiers, who voted prior to Saturday’s election (read my story about it here), proudly displayed their purple fingers. They would have been afraid to have been in uniform four years ago much less tell me who they’d voted for.

In 2004 in Baquba, Iraq, voters showed up despite mortar fire and threats from gunmen. Election workers secretly counted ballots in the safest place they knew – an aircraft hangar on a US Army base. This time, the US is keeping at arms-length and there’s a sense of progress, even if no one is quite sure in which direction.

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