What's at stake when Iraq holds the country's first nationwide election since the downfall of Saddam Hussein:
— Iraqis will be voting for a 275-member Transitional National Assembly.
— Iraqis will also vote Jan. 30 for regional leaders in the country’s 18 provinces.
— Residents of the northern Kurdish region will vote in a third election, for a Kurdistan assembly.
— Voter registration process began Nov. 1 and ran through mid-December. The final register includes 14,270,000 eligible voters.
— Prior to the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, Iraq was governed under a provisional constitution adopted in 1968 and subsequently amended.
— In 1970 the Kurds were granted limited autonomy and they elected an executive council and a 50-member legislature.
— The 105-member Kurdish National Assembly was elected in 1992.
— In March 2004, Iraq's governing council approved an interim constitution, which would provide for the creation of an interim government.
— The interim government was named on June 1, 2004, and on June 28, political authority was handed over to the interim government.
— To vote, a person must be deemed an Iraqi citizen, be entitled to reclaim Iraqi citizenship, or be eligible for Iraqi citizenship; have been born on or before Dec. 31, 1986, (that is, be 18 years or older on that date); and be registered to vote according to procedures issued by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq.
— The Independent Electoral Commission ruled that Iraqi expatriates can vote in the elections. An estimated 2 million to 4 million Iraqis are now living abroad — about half of them over 18 — with some of the biggest concentrations in Britain, the United States and Iran. There are about 150,000 Iraqis in the United States with as many as 80,000 in Michigan.
— Over 250,000 expatriate Iraqis around the world have registered to vote in Iraq’s Transitional National Assembly Election through the International Organization for Migration’s Out-of-Country Voting Program.
(Sources: Voter Registration, Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq; Reuters; 22 November 2004; Facts on File: "Country Profile: Iraq." 29 Nov. 2004; "Over 250,000 Iraqis Register to Participate in Out-of-Country Vote," International Organization for Migration press release, Jan. 26, 2005)