On Saturday Iraqis held their most peaceful election since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the voting for provincial councils ended without a single major attack reported anywhere in the country.
The elections going smoothly were considered a crucial test of the nation's stability as U.S. officials consider the pace of troop withdrawals.
Polls opened shortly after dawn after a step-by-step security clampdown across the country, including traffic bans in central Baghdad and other major cities and closure of border crossings and airports. Voting ended 11 hours later with no reports of major violence, though voters at some polling stations complained that their names did not appear on lists. Balloting was extended for one hour to accommodate voters.
Officials told Associated Press reporters the counting would begin Sunday with preliminary results expected after Tuesday.
Although the voting was generally peaceful, a shooting occurred in Baghdad's Sadr City district. Shiite lawmaker Ghufran al-Saidi said a military officer opened fire and injured two people after voters chanted slogans at a polling station.
But Iraq's military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, told Al-Arabiya television that the shooting occurred after some people tried to carry mobile phones through security cordons. One person was killed and one injured, he said.
A group of U.S. soldiers patrolled on foot, but well away from polling centers. The U.S. military assisted in security preparations for the elections but said troops would only be called in on Election Day if needed.
In the western city of Fallujah — once a center of the Sunni insurgency — police used their patrol cars to help some people get to voting stations.
More than 14,000 candidates, including about 3,900 women, are running for 440 seats on the influential councils in all of Iraq's provinces except for the autonomous Kurdish region in the north and the province that includes oil-rich Kirkuk, where ethnic groups were unable to reach a power-sharing formula.
Voters headed home waved their purple-tinted index fingers, which are dipped in ink to identify people who already cast ballots. The ink-stained fingers became an iconic image of Iraq's first post-Saddam Hussein elections four years ago.