Fairplex one of three voting sites in state

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! POMONA – Applause broke out every now and then in the room adorned with green, white, red and black balloons – the colors of the Iraqi flag.A voter emerged, dabbing a newly-stained purple index finger with a wad of tissue.Voters from across Southern California came to Fairplex in Pomona to mark their ballots Tuesday, the first day Iraqi expatriates in the United States could vote for Iraq’s new 275-seat National Assembly.The new legislature, which will hold seats for four years, will choose the first fully constitutional government since the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s rule in 2003.Alex Maki of Hacienda Heights came to Fairplex on Tuesday evening after finishing work at Claremont Toyota, where he is a sales manager.Almost every Iraqi-American he knows is voting in the election, he said, and several of his relatives are working at the polls at Fairplex.“It’s nice to be here; it’s nice to have a voice to be heard,” he said.Organizers expect about 3,000 Iraqi expatriates to vote at Fairplex, which was chosen as one of three voting sites in California. The others were in the San Francisco Bay and San Diego areas.Each voter was greeted with a round of applause after turning in a ballot.Aleya Bashar of West Covina refused to wipe her finger, which dripped with purple ink as she left the polling station. The ink is a measure to prevent people from voting more than once.“She’s showing off,” said husband Farouk Darweesh, an engineering professor at Cal Poly Pomona. “This is a great day. We are extremely happy.”The couple left Iraq toting “two kids and two suitcases” soon after Saddam Hussein became president in 1979, Bashar said. They had been targeted to join Hussein’s party because they were both university professors.Organizers said Tuesday they had chatted with voters from as far as Las Vegas and Utah.Security was tight at Gate 12, which hosted the voting, with private security guards manning a metal detector and Pomona Police officers standing by.But the event went smoothly, with the only complaint being voter confusion over the more than 200 political parties representing more than 7,000 candidates spanning the four-page ballot.“It’s like reading a newspaper,” Alex Maki said, adding the ballot should explain which candidates are represented by which parties.“You can’t tell who represents who,” said Maki, who voted for “Number 555,” the ballot number for the United Iraqi Alliance, a Shiite coalition that includes the prime minister.Darweesh said he didn’t mind the long list.“I enjoyed looking through the list of candidates. It was very impressive,” he joked. “But this is the nature of the game. People have been denied rights for so long, it’s going to take time for the process to mature.”The Associated Press contributed to this report. [email protected](626) 962-8811, Ext. 2306last_img read more

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