Since the Iraqi elections are typical "demonstration elections," however, the corporate media are duty-bound to ignore such hardball questions as whether the elections were free, fair, and democratic and to hype "a large turnout (indicating voter support for the election itself and thus identifying the election with "democracy")" (Frank Brodhead, "Reframing the Iraq Election," ZNet, January 21, 2005).
Steve Bell (2005)
Greg Mitchell looks skeptically at the press's reports on turnout estimates, which have already been brought down 15% in one day:
The widely-publicized estimates a few hours ago from Iraq election officials of 72% turnout has already been cut to about 57% from the same officials. Dexter Filkins of The New York Times reported at midday:All good questions. I'd also ask where the Independent [sic] Election Commission of Iraq got the figure of 8 million voters.
"The chairman of the Independent Election Commission of Iraq, Fareed Ayar, said as many as 8 million people turned out to vote, or between 55 percent and 60 percent of those registered to cast ballots. If 8 million turns out to be the final figure, that would represent 57 percent of voters."
The question remains: what percentage of the population chose to register? What percentage of adult citizens participated? Iraq has a population of at least 25 million, plus expatriates were allowed to vote overseas. (emphasis added, "Iraq, the Vote: The Press Sizes Up the Election," Editor & Publisher, January 30, 2005)
The answer is that's exactly the same number the commission predicted before the elections:
A senior election official estimates that half of Iraq's 15 million eligible voters ["[t]here are 14 million eligible voters inside Iraq . . . plus 1.2 million abroad allowed to vote in 14 countries including the United States, Britain, Iran and Syria"] will take part in this month's national election and says that to encourage a high turnout, those living in insurgency-racked areas will be allowed to vote in safer communities.What precision! A sign that elections in Iraq have been raised to the level of science, far superior to the 4-billion-dollar election industry in the United States that showed disturbing discrepancies between exit polls and vote tallies? Not! A safer hypothesis is that it's a sign of how scripted Iraqi elections were. If Washington needs about 8 million Iraqi voters to achieve a "respectable" turnout of half the eligible voters (Hendawi, January 14, 2005), the Independent [sic] Election Commission of Iraq has to give that number to Washington before and after the elections. After all, "demonstration elections" are theater -- for the American, rather than Iraqi, audience.
Farid Ayar of Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission said he expected 7 to 8 million Iraqis to vote on Jan. 30 in a ballot seen as a major step toward fulfilling U.S. goals of building democracy here after decades of Saddam Hussein's tyranny. (emphasis added, Hamza Hendawi/Associated Press, "Half of Iraq Population Estimated to Vote," January 14, 2005)
For connoisseurs of comparative propaganda: Peter Grose, "U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote" (New York Times, September 4, 1967, p. 2)