IHEC sets up voter registration centres in camps to enable IDPs to register to vote in provincial elections

ESYAN Camp, Duhok, Iraq, 24 April 2019 – Although the Kurdistan Region will not be participating in Iraq’s upcoming provincial council elections, those Iraqi citizens who have been displaced into the Kurdistan Region from elsewhere in the country by terrorism and recent conflict will nonetheless get an opportunity to cast their ballots as though they were in their places of origin - but this can only be achieved if they register now while they still have the opportunity.

On 24 April 2019, the Deputy Special Representative (DSRSG) for Iraq of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ms. Alice Walpole, visited mobile voter registration centres (VRCs) in Shariya and Esyan camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Duhok governorate in the Kurdistan Region to experience firsthand the ongoing IDP registration process, listen to suggestions and concerns, and understand better how the United Nations can assist. She also paid a call on the Independent High Electoral Commission’s Director for Duhok province, Mr Yousef Barwari, and his team to discuss some of the challenges facing IHEC in providing a registration service to Duhok’s huge IDP population (around 240,000 eligible voters). Mr Barwari accompanied Ms Walpole on her visit to the Esyan voter registration centre.

Ms. Walpole, whose office in the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) coordinates UN advice and technical support for the Iraq Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), commended the professionalism of all the IHEC staff she met, some of whom are delivering mobile registration services in very remote areas. She urged all eligible IDPs to register to ensure that their voice is heard.

“If you register now, you can vote when the elections come. If you don’t, you risk not making your voice heard”, Ms. Walpole said.

She discussed with IHEC’s local media outreach team and the Esyan and Shariya camp managers how best to announce and promote the registration process to camp residents. There was a widespread view that the registration period need to be extended to ensure maximum participation.

In preparation for the forthcoming provincial elections, IHEC is conducting a voter registration update to give an opportunity for all eligible voters to check and update their voter registration records. There are 906 VRCs in the 15 governorates that are not incorporated into regions and, in addition to static VRC locations, IHEC also sends mobile teams to less accessible locations, such as IDP camps.

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Photos: UNAMI PIO/Rashwan Salih
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