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Iraqi voters cast their ballots at a polling station in the country's early general election in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, on Oct. 10. Photo: Fariq Faraj Mahmood/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iraq on Sunday held an election to establish a parliament, a move many residents hope will result in reforms and change, AP reports.

Why it matters: The election, originally scheduled for next year, was pushed forward after a massive anti-government protest in the capital of Baghdad two years ago, during which thousands of people were injured and hundreds died.

  • It is the first time Iraq is using biometric cards for voters — a measure to ensure the integrity of the election. More than 250,000 security personnel were tasked with securing the vote, per AP.
  • Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi advocated for citizens to participate in the election, saying, "Get out and vote, and change your reality for the sake of Iraq and your future."

The election will see 3,449 candidates challenging for 329 seats. It is the sixth election since the fall of Saddam Hussein after the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003.

Between the lines: Many of the young activists whose 2019 demonstrations catalyzed the early election later called for a boycott of the vote, claiming a corrupt process, per AP. A series of kidnappings and assassinations has also discouraged turnout.

  • Officials have urged people to vote in masses, fearing the election could see turnout numbers as low or lower than in 2018, when just 44% of those eligible voters cast a ballot.

What they're saying: "I voted because there needs to be change. I don't want these same faces and same parties to return," Amir Fadel, an Iraqi citizen, told AP.

  • "I came since early morning to be the first voter to participate in an event that will hopefully bring change," said Abu Abdullah, of the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, per Reuters. "We expect the situation to improve significantly."

Go deeper

22 hours ago - Axios Des Moines

More than 100 Polk County absentee ballot requests rejected

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

At least 130 Polk County voters submitted absentee ballot requests via mail after Monday's 5pm deadline, according to a county auditor's report provided to Axios by Polk County Democrats.

Why it matters: The Nov. 2 elections mark the first time voters head to the polls since Gov. Kim Reynolds signed new voting rules into law.

  • Shorter timeframes and far more restrictive rules could make it harder for communities of color, individuals with disabilities and elderly voters to cast ballots, groups like LULAC Iowa argue.

Nonpartisan Wisconsin audit finds 2020 election "largely safe and secure"

A poll worker feeds a voting tabulation machine with absentee ballots in the gym at Sun Prairie High School on Nov. 3, 2020, in Sun Prairie, Wisc. Photo: Andy Manis/Getty Images

A nonpartisan audit of the 2020 presidential race results in Wisconsin found no evidence of widespread voter fraud and determined the swing state's election had been "largely safe and secure."

Why it matters: The results further undermine former President Donald Trump's false claims of widespread voter fraud throughout the country.

Updated 8 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.