CNN: Iraqis vote amid violence
Insurgents carried out more than a dozen attacks across the country on Sunday, killing at least 25 people and wounding 71 others.
Yep, that's pretty bad, considering that al-Zarquawi had promised over 400 such attacks.
MSNBC: Against violent backdrop, Iraqis turn out to vote
Optimism about the vote was tempered by low turnout among Sunni Muslims, which could undermine the new government and worsen tensions among the country’s ethnic, religious and cultural groups.
Early reports are showing a 72% voter turnout. The best the US has ever managed (as far as I can find) is 63%, and that was without people being threatened with beheading if they voted. I'm sorry, but if the Sunnis don't want to vote, well, that an exercise of their new-found freedom. A stupid exercise, but an exercise nonetheless.
The one that truly shocks me is this Reuters report: Defiant Iraqis Vote in Their Millions Despite Bombs
This one is worth quoting at some length...
Some came on crutches, others walked for miles then struggled to read the ballot, but across most of Iraq millions turned out to vote Sunday, defying insurgent threats of a bloodbath.
Suicide bombs and mortars killed at least 33 people, but Iraqis still came out in force for the first multi-party poll in 50 years. While in some areas turnout was scant, in most places, including violent Sunni Arab regions, it exceeded expectations.
Many cheered with joy at their first chance to cast a free vote, while others shared chocolates with fellow voters.
Even in Falluja, the Sunni city west of Baghdad that was a militant stronghold until a U.S. assault in November, a steady stream of people turned out, confounding expectations. Lines of veiled women clutching their papers waited in line to vote.
A positive story, and from the European press, no less. Like I said, I'm shocked.
But then, back to the standard drumbeat.
From The New Zealand Herald: Iraq votes: Bloody road to freedom
We have two paragraphs about two men voting (probably for the first time in their lives), then we get down to business...
Yet neither man is without misgivings. The euphoria shown by Iraqi exiles as they voted in foreign countries is absent in Iraq.
Although the election is the closest Iraq has come to a free and fair poll, its shortcomings are impossible to ignore
Despite how hard they may try, the simple fact is this: Despite the efforts of the terrorists, despite the constant media "more bad news from Iraq" drumbeat, despite what some of our elected jackasses in Congress spew forth, despite everything, the people of Iraq have made an electoral choice for the first time in 50+ years. This is a historic time for them. No matter what they have decided (and we don't know yet, the ballots not having been counted), they have made their own choice--and that's the important thing.
At the same time, we should remember the price that has been paid, by our military and the Iraqis themselves, to reach this point. I hope the new government of Iraq makes the most of what has been purchased.