The polls in Iraq are now closed, and despite fears of terror attacks, Iraqis cast their votes Sunday. At least 36 people were killed in strikes on polling places. Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq says his group is responsible for 13 of those attacks.
Despite threats of violence and boycotts, turnout in this first Iraqi election appears to be higher than anyone had hoped. At many polling sites they stood in long lines; men, women, the very old, even the sick, carried to the polls by relatives.
Voting became a family outing as many arrived with children in tow.
You won't see American troops here. U.S. security forces have been ordered to stay in the background to avoid the impression that Iraqis are voting under pressure from the U.S.
Voters are checked by local security guards as they enter the polling stations. Dipping a finger in purple die shows that a vote has been cast.
In Sunni areas the turnout was more modest. Some polling places were deserted or failed to open at all. In Fallujah people waited to vote behind barbed wire, but the extensive security measures could not stop all the violence. A string of suicide bombs and mortar attacks claimed over 40 Iraqi lives.
President Bush commended the Iraqis on their courage.
"By participating in free elections, the Iraqi people have firmly rejected the anti-Democratic ideology of terrorist," said President Bush.
Only time will tell whether this election marks a turning point for Iraq. For now, many Iraqis are positively euphoric that they were able to pull off an election at all.