LOS ANGELES -- Voter turnout among Iraqi expatriates in the UnitedStates during this week's historic parliamentary elections wasestimated Friday at 12 percent -- lower than some had expected, andwell short of the 70 percent participation in their homeland.
More than 28,000 ballots were cast in the United States over threedays, organizers said. That was 4,000 more votes than were castduring elections for a constitutional assembly last January. Votingin the United States had been streamlined this time around.
In Iraq, despite fears of violence, participation was unexpectedlyheavy in some areas, and some polling places ran out of ballots.
While exuberance ran high among the Iraqi Americans who voted,some organizers had hoped for bigger numbers.
'My expectations were too high'
"I thought we were going to double the number" from January, saidTalal Ibrahim, deputy coordinator for the U.S. Iraqi vote. "I'm happyeverything went smooth, but maybe my expectations were too high."
The preliminary count of the Tuesday-through-Thursday vote was28,486 ballots cast out of an estimated 240,000 eligible Iraqivoters, Ibrahim said.
A community center in Skokie was one of eight U.S. polling placesand the only one in the Chicago area. Expatriate Iraqis streamedthere from throughout the Midwest this week. Election officialscounted ballots throughout the night after the polls closed Thursday,but did not release specific numbers from the Skokie location Friday.
More than 6,000 people cast ballots at two Chicago area pollingplaces during January's first-round of elections.