As some students fretted over studying for finals, LSA sophomore Anthony Pattah drove to Farmington Hills Manor with his dad and exercised his right to vote.

Sarah Royce
Iraqi voter and LSA sophomore Anthony Pattah. Pattah traveled to Farmington Hills, Mich. to cast his vote in the Iraqi National Assembly election. (RODRIGO GAYA/Daily)

Pattah and his father were voting in Iraq’s landmark election for a four-year, 275-member National Assembly.

“It’s sending a message to the Arab world that democracy can work,” Pattah said.

Pattah, who is Chaldean, a kind of Christian, said he wanted to diversify representation in the government.

“I voted for the Christian bloc over there,” he said. “I also voted because I wanted to see my own people have a part in the government. I thought it might bring an end to the terrorism.”

Voting for Iraqis in the United States took place from Dec. 13 to 15 and on Dec. 15 in Iraq.

The results of the election have not been announced because of allegations of fraud, intimidation and irregularities in the voting. An international team is currently investigating these complaints.

In the United States, as many as 28,500 expatriates voted, according to Michael Youash, spokesman for Iraq Out-of-Country Voting Program USA.

Expatriates had to meet one of two requirements to vote. Either they could be 18 years or older and be able to prove their citizenship to Iraq or they could prove one of their parents is Iraqi.

Detroit, Dearborn, Washington, Chicago, Nashville and three cities in California served as polling stations.

“[The voting process] was much smoother than we expected and it was done with less resources,” Youash said.

Youash said that most voters in Detroit probably came from Michigan because Dearborn has the second-largest Iraqi population in the United States.

Out-of-country voting took place in 15 countries including Australia, Canada, England and Jordan.

But not everyone took part in the voting process. LSA senior Sayf Al-katib and his father decided not to.

“Before I can feel comfortable about voting, I want to understand why we’re in the situation we’re in right now,” Al-katib said. “I feel like President Bush is advertising the election in a way to distract the American people from the real issues of our involvement in Iraq.”

Al-katib also said elections in Iraq are being used to distract the public from probing Bush’s faulty argument that weapons of mass destruction and terrorist ties made war with Iraq necessary.

“I think my biggest reason for not voting is that I feel that this election is more of a tool to justify going to war with Iraq in the first place,” he said. “I obviously am deeply concerned with the future of Iraq. However, I feel that my right to vote is being granted solely as a political tool to gain support for the war.”

He added that the last time he visited the country was 11 years ago, which detaches him from the situation.

Once results are announced, two-thirds of the National Assembly of Iraq must vote on a president, who must then ask the majority party to appoint a prime minister and other high officials.

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