Early Voting On Iraq's Constitution

Tomorrow will be a political milestone for the people of Iraq. They will walk to the polls by the thousands, many at risk to their lives. Civilian vehicles will be banned for the day to stop car bombers. And they will vote for, or against, a new constitution.

It is a crucial step toward what the U.S. hopes is the self-government that will hasten the departure of American troops. The terrorists want to stop it. On a normal Friday morning these markets would be filled with shoppers. The day before the constitutional referendum , they are almost empty. Iraq national quard member said, "We are doing our best to protect them, Iraqi security forces, who will be leading the security operation, are conducting random vehicle searches and barricading the more than 6,000 polling stations around the country. "

What they are afraid of is this: the lethal suicide bomber. Increased security is just part of the effort to encourage people to vote. In recent weeks, printing presses have been churning out thousands of copies of the draft constitution. Billboards and public service announcements have urged people to vote-- saying a vote for the constitution is a vote for unity and a bright future.

The Sunni minority who have been largely dissatisfied with the political process has been difficult to convince. Saleh al Mutlaq from the national dialogue said, "Everyone must go on Saturday and vote no.This constitution will tear the country apart."

With last-minute negotiations opening the door for Sunnis to amend the constitution after December's election, the parliament won support from Iraq's largest Sunni party. It will be a small, but important step for this new democracy.