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WikiLeaks: 2005-12-14: 05BAGHDAD5005: IECI Recovers from Errors that Omitted Over 600,000 Names from Iraq Voter Lists

Posted: Wednesday, November 09, 2011 at 04:46 PM CT


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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05BAGHDAD5005 2005-12-14 17:07 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
This record is a partial extract of the original cable.
The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 005005 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/14/2015 
Classified By: Robert Political Counselor S. Ford 
for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D). 
1. (C) Summary. When comparing the list of registered 
voters used for the October referendum with the list 
prepared for the December 15 election, the Kirkuk 
office of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq 
(IECI) found a discrepancy in the number of voters. 
Alerted to this issue by the Kurdish community, the 
IECI headquarters in Baghdad then conducted a 
preliminary review of all of the voter registration 
lists prepared for the upcoming election.  This review 
led to the discovery of a computer error that had 
inadvertently resulted in the omission of over 600,000 
names nationwide from the voter rolls.  The IECI 
corrected this error by issuing supplemental lists to 
the affected polls. 
2. (C)  Summary cont'd:  This discovery and follow-on 
corrective response by the IECI averted a potential 
election-day crisis that could have called into 
question the validity of the election process.  The 
IECI Board of Directors expressed deep disappointment 
that this error occurred, and the UN-lead 
International Election Assistance Team (IEAT) accepted 
full responsibility for what they judged to be 
inadequate quality control on the part of the IEAT 
staff.  The IECI has also developed a stop-gap 
solution to a separate problem of suspicious 
registration of 81,297 names in the sensitive province 
of Kirkuk.  Unfortunately, in Kirkuk the two problems 
are being conflated and fueling fears of fraud. 
Reports of missing and deleted voter names and 
multiple voter registration lists, aggravated by the 
IECI's sluggish and opaque manner in responding to 
public concern, have tarnished confidence in the IECI. 
End Summary. 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
3. (C)  A comparison conducted by the IECI Governorate 
Electoral Office (GEO) in Kirkuk between the voter 
registration list used in Kirkuk during the October 
referendum and the list prepared for the December 15 
election uncovered a significant numerical 
discrepancy.  UN/IECI Commissioner Craig Jenness told 
PolOffs on December 11 that the IECI Commissioners 
received December 10 a Kurdish delegation which filed 
a complaint with the IECI regarding more than 200,000 
names missing from the Kirkuk voter lists.  A follow- 
up investigation conducted by IECI headquarters on the 
night of December 10 revealed that in addition to the 
reported 200,000 names, approximately 400,000 more 
names were discovered missing nationwide from the 
voter lists.  The impacted lists affected polling 
centers throughout all parts of Iraq ? unfortunately, 
by far the largest number was in Kirkuk, the most 
sensitive province. 
4. (C) The IECI attributed the omissions to human 
error which had occurred when the individual polling 
center lists were generated from the master database. 
Jenness explained that the IECI personnel responsible 
for creating the list most likely failed to include 
all the appropriate data fields (or, database 
attributes) when they downloaded the individual 
reports.  He added that poor quality control along the 
production line was a contributing factor to this 
error remaining undetected. 
5. (C) Jenness indicated that the IECI found a 
technical remedy to this problem by providing each 
impacted polling center with a supplemental voter list 
that contained the missing names.  The IECI polling 
station staff has been instructed that they must check 
both the master voter list and the supplemental voter 
list to locate the name of each voter who shows up to 
vote on December 15.  If these checks fail to locate 
the voter's name, Jenness explained that the voter 
will still be allowed to vote if he produces his voter 
registration document (Form 91) plus a photo 
6. (C) The situation in Kirkuk is further complicated 
by the fact that in a separate action the IECI 
headquarters had purposely dropped 81,297 names from 
the Kirkuk registration list.  These names, which had 
been added to the rolls at the end of the voter 
registration period in August, were found to be 
suspicious and rejected in November following a review 
by IECI headquarters that indicated slightly more than 
half of the registrations were fraudulent (e.g., 
duplicate name or ID number or signature).  In the 
event a legitimate voter has been caught up in this 
excision of 81,297 names, he too can vote if he 
produces his voter registration document (Form 91) 
plus a photo ID.  The IECI has engaged in a tardy 
public outreach campaign to make this clear to voters 
in Kirkuk.  While not all of the 81,297 suspicious 
registrations can be attributed to Kurds, it appears 
that most can.  Non-Kurds (Turcomans and Assyrian 
Christians) object strenuously to the IECI?s solution, 
saying it opens the door to massive fraud by Kurds 
from outside Kirkuk who never registered at all. 
7. (C) Reports of missing and deleted names and 
multiple voter registration lists, aggravated by the 
IECI's sluggish and opaque manner in responding to 
public concern, have undermined confidence in the 
IECI.  Notwithstanding the expeditious resolution of 
the computer error that led to the inadvertent 
omission of over 600,000 names, the controversy 
created by the IECI's deletion of some 81,000 names 
from the Kirkuk voter update has increased uneasiness 
about electoral fraud and raised fresh questions about 
the IECI's competence and independence.  Of all places 
in Iraq, Kirkuk may be the most at risk for voter 
fraud given the intense ethnic competition for 
predominance in the city.  The IECI is demonstrating 
an appropriate commitment to full voter participation 
-- balanced by a responsibility to deter fraud -- by 
allowing those whose names are not on the registration 
lists to vote if they produce a copy of their voter 
registration document.  The IECI in Baghdad took this 
step despite their conviction that at least half of 
the registered names on the Kirkuk excised list of 
some 81,000 are fraudulent.  In response to this 
decision, communities such as the Turcomans and 
Assyrian Christians have assailed the IECI action, 
viewing it as yet another example of the IECI 
kowtowing to Kurd pressure in what they consider a 
clear-cut case of fraud.   Given the circumstances, 
the IECI has probably chosen the best option available 
to them, but no side is fully satisfied with the 

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