The IHEC Launches the Polling Staff Selection Lottery in Baghdad

The first of two lottery exercises to select Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) Polling Staff for the Council of Representatives Election took place on 18 January at Al-Rasheed Hotel, during an official event attended by IHEC officials, the Board of Commissioners, UNAMI’s Chief Technical Advisor to the IHEC, as well as media and civil society representatives. Candidates were randomly selected for Iraq’s central and southern governorates. The second lottery which will select the polling staff for the northern governorates of Iraq, will be held by IHEC in Erbil on 21 January.


From over 512,000 applications collected across Iraq, more than 300,000 polling staff will be recruited to work in approximately 50,000 polling stations on Polling Day.  The IHEC has taken special steps in organizing for the selection of poll workers. For many voters, these poll workers will be the public face of the IHEC on Election Day.

In his opening remarks, Commissioner Qassem al-Abboudi described the exercise as a “transparent one, with aim to avoid any risk of interference or pressure in the selection of the polling workers and which significantly contributes to the  transparency in the overall work of the IHEC” hence,  the importance of an impartial and transparent selection of the polling workers.


Commissioner Hamdiya Al-Husseini took pride in the fact that the 512,000 candidates were listed electronically in the presence of UN experts, and that the public lottery was taking place in the presence of media and civil society representatives “to avoid any doubt or suspicion and to gain the confidence of the voters in the transparency of the process”.


Deputy CEO Aljaderji Mateen stressed on the transparency, accuracy, fairness and impartiality of the criteria for the application and selection of the candidates. He explained that the vacancy announcement was distributed in all Iraqi provinces. All applications were electronically analysed, then mixed with the ones of those who had already been recruited and who re-applied for the job, before being entered randomly in the electronic data base.


Speaking at the event, UNAMI’s Chief Technical Advisor, Sandra Mitchell emphasized that polling staff positions were advertised at the IHEC website and in the press. Candidates were asked to apply online or at the Voter Registration Centers. Completed application forms were collected at the IHEC Data Entry Center and assembled into a database for analysis.


“This lottery represents an important step in the preparations for the election, ensuring transparency and integrity in the manner in which polling staff are selected and recruited”, Mitchell stressed, adding that “with international assistance, a Lottery Software* has been developed by the IHEC to randomly select names from a database of applicants”. Applicants not selected in the lottery will be short-listed as reserve staff.

In addition, she said, “Precautionary measures will be taken by IHEC to protect the identity and safety of the polling staff workers”. In today’s presentation, the selected polling staff names were not fully shown to the public, but rather a list of randomly assigned numbers representative of each person selected was displayed at the lottery. The final list of generated names will only be available to the responsible IHEC authorities.

Furthermore, UNAMI’s Chief Technical Advisor accentuated that the recruitment of Iraqis from all walks of life as polling staff, affords communities a direct involvement with these preparations. “This is one key part of a much larger operation for which we applaud the IHEC’s efforts”, she concluded.  


* The lottery software is based on a shuffling algorithm, known as a Fisher-Yates shuffle. The software has been developed in Microsoft Access, as the platform for running the program.

Last modified on Tuesday, 19 January 2010 03:00

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