Friday, June 01, 2018

Make Sure Ballots Beat Bullets

I'm all on board the Iraqis making sure voter fraud is exposed to ensure rule of law as the essential feature of real democracy. But could the investigation make rule of law worse?

Yes, we should want rule of law over any result in Iraq. That makes sure there will be another free election for people to change their minds by voting. People in Iraq need to believe their votes matter even if they lose.

But is that what is happening in Iraq?

Authorities in Iraq have annulled votes cast at more than a thousand polling stations, following allegations of fraud, including those in the Sunni-predominant provinces of Anbar, Saladin and Diyala. ...

The [Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission] added that it annulled votes cast at 1,021 of the country's 53,000 ballot boxes, and that a probe had been launched "with a view to holding violators accountable".

If this implies voter irregularity was mainly in Sunni Arab areas, the government needs to tread carefully. Not that Sunni Arab vote fraud should be ignored if this is a legacy of Saddam's habit of 99.9% wins.

But if fraud is broadly committed, the Shia areas can't be ignored. Perhaps I'm too sensitive, but this must be done thoroughly and openly if the investigation is to do some good for rule of law rather than be counter-productive and encourage people to rely on bullets rather than ballots to win disputes.

UPDATE: There will be manual recounts in Iraq.