The OTB Guide to the Iraqi Elections

For some reason, I’ve seen very little general information about Sunday’s vote in the press, so I took the time to compile a few numbers. It’s always good to have a firm grasp of the basics; if nothing else, it helps in identifying political spin. Hopefully, this post can provide a bit of context.

The Vote

  • More than 14 million Iraqis and over 280,000 expatriates are registered to vote.
  • Approximately 6,000 voting centers span Iraq.
  • Expatriates cast their ballots in 14 different countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iran, Jordan, Netherlands, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kindom, and United States.
  • There are 256 political entities recognized to participate: 27 individuals, 33 coalitions of parties, and 196 parties.
  • There are 18,900 candidates competing in 20 different elections: the national election, the Kurdistan election, and 18 provincial elections.


  • There are 60 million individual ballot sheets and 90,000 ballot boxes in Iraq.
  • More than 200,000 Iraqis have signed up as poll workers or monitors.
  • About 200 Iraqis will “put together the final tally of the [voting] results” in Baghdad headquarters.
  • Forty UN electoral assistance officers will provide technical support.

Public Opinion

  • About 65% of Iraqis are “very likely” to vote; 17% are “somewhat likely.”
  • In Baghdad, 58% are “very likely”; 17% are “somewhat likely.”
  • In Kurdish areas, 74% are “very likely”; 18% are “somewhat likely.”
  • In Sunni areas, 21% are “very likely”; 32% are “somewhat likely.”
  • Among Shiites, 77% are “very likely”; 14% are “somewhat likely.”
  • Among Kurds, 71% are “very likely”; 19% are “somewhat likely.”
  • Among Sunnis, 20% are “very likely”; 29% are somewhat likely”; and 29% are “very unlikely.”

Take these International Republican Institute poll data with a grain of salt. According to the Christian Science Monitor:

Final Drive to Coax Sunnis to Polls

[…] Election officials say actual numbers will probably be below these figures.

“What people say they’re going to do and what they actually do is not always the same,” says a Western election adviser. “People are reluctant for or a variety of good reasons — if a bomb goes off and they feel they need to stay away for the safety of their family, that’s very understandable.”


Robert Garcia Tagorda
About Robert Garcia Tagorda
Robert blogged prolifically at OTB from November 2004 to August 2005, when career demands took him in a different direction. He graduated summa cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and earned his Master in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.


  1. carpeicthus says:

    Thanks for this.