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L.A.-area Tunisians vote in their country's elections

October 20, 2011 |  3:04 pm

Tunisians cast votes in Los Angeles in country's first parliamentary elections
Tunisians in the Los Angeles area are casting ballots in their country's landmark elections, the first since the uprising in their country this year ousted former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The election, to choose a national assembly that will write a new constitution, will take place Sunday in Tunisia.

It was a festive atmosphere Thursday in the small conference room at the Hollywood Heights Hotel where voting took place. After each person dropped a ballot into the box, poll volunteers clapped and cheered. 

"Bravo, bravo, good job," said Bechir Blagui, manager of the Los Angeles voting center.


By noon, about two dozen people had voted for the two seats on the National Constituent Assembly that will represent North America and parts of Europe.  

The Los Angeles voting station, one of half a dozen around the country, will be open through Saturday.

"It's a symbolic day," said Chiraz Zouaoui, an entrepreneur from Marina Del Rey. "And today by coincidence Kadafi is dead. It's a very special day to be part of this freedom and know that we are not just voting for one party." 

Zouaoui, 41, came to the United States 13 years ago but had never voted in Tunisia. There was no point, she said, because everyone could vote only for Ben Ali. 

Like many others, she stood by the door with the Tunisian voting signs and took photos, holding up her blue-inked finger that was required of each voter. 

Voters were required to leave their phones at the registration table or outside the polling area. A man standing outside the door answered his friend's phone while the friend was inside casting his ballot.

"He's doing his civic duty," the man explained to the caller.


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Photo: Tunisian Leila Oualha, right, smiles after dipping her finger in blue dye before casting her ballot at the Hollywood Heights Hotel on Thursday in the first parliamentary elections held in Tunisia after the country's revolution. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times