Here in our country International election officials in Chicago made sure native Iraqis cast a proper ballot on their day of democracy.
Chicago was one of five U.S. cities joining Nashville, Los Angeles, Detroit and Washington D.C. to have Iraqi voting polls open Sunday. The O.C.V. or Out of Country Voting program allowed 14 countries around the world to hold registration and elections at the same time. Officials say of the estimated 31,000 potential Iraqi voters in Chicago area more than 6,000 registered.
Oliver Vick who is head of the Chicago Iraq OCV program says, “With the number we have here it’s incredibly satisfying seeing them voting and dancing and celebrating the way they are. This is really something special.”
The Chicago polls had 170 registration and office workers. Iraqis registered to vote between January 17 and January 25.
From the suburbs to the distant plains Iraqi voters near and far all descended upon Chicago earlier to make history.
Election workers say between the polling hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Voters from 12 Midwest states made the trek to cast their vote. Iraqis from Kansas to Iowa all put in hours on the road to place their name in Iraq's new democratic nation.
23 News spoke to a man who came all the way from Minnesota. His translator explains why it was worth the drive.
Al-Zayyadeh Salter from Minnesota says, “This is a real important day to me and Iraqi people so no matter where I live, where I am at, how far I am, I have to get here on time and make it over here. This is a historic say for the Iraqi people.”
Election workers say other than Illinois, the biggest Midwest state in turnout came from Nebraska, which brought in several busloads of Iraqi voters.