About 600,000 of the 15 million electorate went to the polls Wednesday in the first stage of Iraq's historic provincial elections. Turnout was reported as high during the early voting which took place for people with special needs as well as government workers such as the Iraqi Army and Police, who will be working during the main polling tomorrow.
After joint planning with U.S. forces for over a month, the Iraqis are taking the lead on election day security.
"We are asking the coalition forces for air support, especially in [medical evacuations], should we need them," Iraqi army Col. Abdalah Ramadan Atia said. "However, the coalition will have very little involvement in this operation. We have experience from the 2005 elections. The units are trained and prepared."
Meanwhile, from yesterday's Notable & Quotable section of the WSJ.
The late novelist John Updike in a 1966 letter on the Vietnam war:
Like most Americans I am uncomfortable about our military adventure in South Vietnam; but in honesty I wonder how much of the discomfort has to do with its high cost, in lives and money, and how much with its moral legitimacy. I do not believe that the Vietcong and Ho Chi Minh have a moral edge over us, nor do I believe that great powers can always avoid using their power.
I am for our intervention if it does some good -- specifically, if it enables the people of South Vietnam to seek their own political future. It is absurd to suggest that a village in the grip of guerrillas has freely chosen, or that we owe it to history to bow before a wave of the future engineered by terrorists. The crying need is for genuine elections whereby the South Vietnamese can express their will. If their will is for Communism, we should pick up our chips and leave. Until such a will is expressed, and as long as no willingness to negotiate is shown by the other side, I do not see that we can abdicate our burdensome position in South Vietnam.
Blackfive has posted two eyewitness accounts of the elections from Marines in Anbar, where only 2% of the Sunni population voted in the 2005 elections:
Witness to History - Marine in Anbar On the Iraqi Election
Witness to History - Part 2 - Marine General Sounds Off About Iraqi Election
And here's two more, found in the Dawn Patrol: