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Eager to vote, Iraq's displaced faced obstacles on election day

Promises of jobs and support to rebuild their homes sent many of Iraq's internally displaced in search of voting stations that would allow them to cast their vote on May 12.

ERBIL, Iraqi Kurdistan — The Janabi cousins from Salahuddin province had already been waiting for five hours outside the polling station in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, where they have lived since the Islamic State (IS) took over their city in 2014. They watched the voting station open at 7 a.m. and were still there at midday because, lacking the most recent electronic voting cards, they were not allowed to vote.

According to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, Iraq still has more than 2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have been displaced since 2014, and their perceived inability to vote has led Sunni leaders to demand that the Iraqi parliamentary elections be postponed. Their request was refused and special polling stations were set up for those who fled the provinces of Ninevah, Kirkuk, Salahuddin and Anbar, both in the camps and in the cities where they have found refuge. Officials of the Independent High Electoral Commission announced that those who did not have the electronic voting card would be allowed to vote using their IDs and old voting cards, but many encountered problems on election day.

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