Good Turnout, Slow Count:

The referendum on Iraq??¢â???¬â???¢s proposed constitution produced a good turnout October 15, followed by a slow vote count, which will be followed by an audit of the results. According to Iraqi officials, about 61% of registered voters cast ballots. The turnout was higher??¢â???¬ ¦quot;66%??¢â???¬ ¦quot;in Salahuddin, Diyala and Nineveh provinces, which were considered the swing provinces because of their large, but not dominant, Sunni populations.

To defeat the constitution, which was widely favored by Shiites and Kurds, Iraqi Sunnis would need to have mustered a two-thirds ??¢â???¬?????no??¢â???¬  vote in at least three provinces. Early reports indicated the constitution won 90% to 99% in the Shiite provinces, while probably losing more than the necessary two-thirds to be defeated in heavily Sunni Anbar province and in Salahuddin. But Sunni leaders claimed the voting was fixed in Diyala and Nineveh provinces, according to the Associated Press, when preliminary results showed that these areas, believed to have slight Sunni majorities, voted 70% for the constitution. In response to Sunni claims and to the extraordinarily high percentage of ??¢â???¬?????yes??¢â???¬  votes in Shiite provinces, the Iraqi Election Commission announced it would examine the results, while saying there was no indication of fraud. If the returns hold up, the new Iraqi constitution will have won a resounding victory in 16 of the nation??¢â???¬â???¢s 18 provinces.