Political challenges marred the results of the technically successful Oct. 10, 2021 Council of Representative (CoR) elections in Iraq. Voter turnout was low, particularly among youth, and losing political parties alleged fraud and spread disinformation, further eroding trust in the process. However, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), under leadership of a new Board of Commissioners, performed well under difficult circumstances and seeks to incorporate lessons learned moving forward. IFES will strengthen its partnership with the IHEC to build its capacity to combat electoral disinformation and improve long-term strategic planning, cyber security and public outreach. In addition, IFES will continue partnering with civil society organizations (CSOs) to combat election disinformation. Since 2003, IFES has supported Iraq’s democratic development, providing technical assistance to key stakeholders and advising on electoral legislation and legal frameworks, technical operations, communications and voter outreach.
Ahead of the CoR elections, IFES provided technical and operational assistance to the IHEC by producing public service announcements, conducting poll worker training, and advising on election operations. Since the elections, IFES has continued to provide long-term capacity building to the IHEC, including in the areas of inclusion strategies, public outreach and strengthening of critical IT systems. IFES and local partner Technology for Peace (Tech4Peace), the leading Iraqi factchecking organization, are equipping Iraqi civil society with the tools to mitigate disinformation threats. IFES has formed an anti-disinformation alliance including CSO representatives, bloggers and online activists to help inform and build public trust in the electoral process. This alliance helps counter disinformation campaigns that target electoral and political processes by disseminating effective counter messaging. During the recent election cycle, IFES also tracked instances of election violence to better tailor its anti-disinformation messaging.