Iraqis counting votes from provincial elections

Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqis have begun counting votes from the first provincial elections since the last U.S. troops withdrew in December 2011.

Hundreds of ballot boxes stood in counting centers Sunday. Employees of Iraq's independent electoral commission went through the ballot sheets under supervision of political party representatives.

Final results are expected in several days. Voting was mostly peaceful, despite widespread violence in the run-up.

Turnout in Saturday's elections stood at 51 percent. Some eligible voters said they did not find their names in the voting rolls.

The voting took place in 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces. Elections were delayed in two provinces because of unstable security conditions, and the country's three-province northern autonomy region was not included.

Thousands of candidates from 50 electoral blocs were vying for 378 seats on provincial councils.

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