Thousands Of Iraqi Expats Flock To Nashville To Vote

Qasim Faraj, left, and Husam Alsawad show off their purple-stained fingers, indicating that they've voted in the national election.

Qasim Faraj, left, and Husam Alsawad show off their purple-stained fingers, indicating that they’ve voted in the national election. Credit: Emily Siner / WPLN

By the time the polls close in Nashville on Monday night, several thousand Iraqis will have voted in their national election.

Not even the rainy weather stopped Antioch resident Husam Alsawad from casting his ballot. It’s his responsibility, he says.

“This is one of the great things about freedom. You get to choose whoever you want,” he says. “It means future for Iraq. I mean, this is a democratic process and we have to participate.”

Alsawad lives about 10 miles from the poll. But some people drove up to 10 hours to vote, says Salih Doski, who oversees the Nashville voting center:

“From Florida they came here, from Kentucky, from Georgia, from Alabama, from Missouri,” Doski says.

Nashville is one of nine cities around the U.S. where Iraqi expats can vote for members of the country’s parliament.  The city has hosted voters for all three Iraqi national elections since 2005, partly because of its large Kurdish population.

This year, 9,000 candidates are running for 328 seats in the Iraqi parliament. The parliament appoints the country’s president and prime minister.

While no official polling numbers are out yet, Doski says he expects 3,000 to 4,000 people to cast their ballots from Tennessee.

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