By Sharon Lynch
Suleiman Zubi, the retired Benghazi court judge who is overseeing the Benghazi local election, has extended the voter registration period to 19 April. The last three days of registration saw a dramatic upsurge in the number of voters registering, with the count at the end of the day on Monday well over 100,000. This number is expected to double over the next few days after the candidates names are announced. As of the end of the day on Tuesday, over 100 candidates had filed application to run for office with the High Election Committee.
When Judge Zubi and I first spoke last month, he and his team of hundreds of volunteers were preparing to register 500,000 voters, about 77 percent of the estimated 650,000 Benghazi residents considered eligible to vote. This ambitious target includes Benghazi residents 18 years of age and older.
Benghazi’s total population is an elusive number given that the last census taken in 2006 is not considered reliable. Depending on the source consulted, citations range from a low of 800,000 to a high of 1.2 million. Extrapolating a firm estimate of eligible voters has been further complicated by the NTC’s recent decision to reduce the Benghazi boundaries to exclude the outlying Sidi Khalifa, Benina, and Terria districts. However, it seems reasonable to extrapolate that the 100,000 voters registered between 4 April, when registration opened, and yesterday represent about 25-30 percent of the anticipated total to be registered.
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