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Absentee voting for Iraq election is issue in U.S.



Published: Wed, January 5, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Tens of thousands of Iraqi immigrants across the United States who may be entitled to vote in their homeland's elections this month are finding that confusion is the front-runner.

What began as enthusiasm for the absentee balloting has given way to frustration among Iraqi expatriates who are uncertain where they will vote and whether they will even be eligible.

With less than two weeks before voter registration begins, U.S. organizers say they still have not decided on the exact locations of up to 25 polling places in the five cities selected to host the vote: Detroit, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Nashville and Los Angeles.

Getting to the polls is yet another challenge. Those who live in New York City, Phoenix and Dallas -- other cities with large Iraqi populations -- will have to travel hundreds of miles to appear in person at polling centers twice in two weeks. Registration is Jan. 17-23, and voting is Jan. 28-30.

"Iraqis are aware of the elections, but they might not be aware of the process and registering," said Sayed Mostafa Al Qazwini, imam of the Islamic Educational Center in Orange County. "They don't have enough information and there's not much time left."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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