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05BAGHDAD5005 2005-12-14 17:07:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
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					  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