The BBC News website's Iraq election log gathers a range of accounts from people inside Iraq about their day-to-day lives.
In our tenth instalment, we hear that all is relatively calm in Basra, a family returns home for the first time in weeks and finds itself in the crossfire of a gun battle, and businessmen plan a job creation campaign.
You can bookmark this page and come back to read the latest posts each day.
RELAXING WITH FAMILY AND WORKING IN THE GARDEN
Posted by Youssef Iraqi doctor, Basra, 3 February
It's still very quiet here in Basra. I think everyone here is just waiting for results! Since I last wrote there has been little trouble. There were two explosions yesterday morning here, but they seemed quite far from the main area of town and no-one was hurt. Doctors at the local hospitals said no-one came in with injuries. There is no feeling of tension in the air, which is great.
We are still on holiday here so I am spending my time relaxing with family and doing some gardening. I've been preparing a research paper for my students - I'm supervising some post graduates.
This morning I went to the college to see what was going on. My students said everything seemed fine - all was calm. They all seem to have settled back into their routines. Around 8pm after I finished work I went to the market and there were still many people around, even that late in the evening. The security here is much better now than six or eight months ago.
What I find strange when I watch the international news about the Iraq elections is how the media always bring up the issues that apparently divide Sunni and Shia Muslims. I think this is wrong and it is sometimes talked about too much as though it is a big divide. I am Sunni but my wife is Shia. My children have Sunni and Shia uncles. We have lived here in Basra a long time. Of course there are extremists around here, but there are wherever you go. They are a minority, and don't represent the majority who want to live in harmony. The consensus here is that we don't care who will be leader as long as he the puts welfare of Iraq as a whole as his number one priority.
I heard part of Bush's State of the Union address. I don't like him for invading Iraq, but now that the Americans are here, I support him on the idea that US forces should not leave until the job is done. Mr Bush sometimes says the right things but he seems so arrogant. I'm not pro-Iranian but it seems to me a case of double standards to be aggressive towards Iran because of its nuclear ambitions, but not Israel. He did not give the Saudis enough credit for their tremendous efforts in controlling terror.
THE CHILDREN SLEPT IN ONE ROOM TO COMFORT EACH OTHER
Posted by Tariq al-Ani Iraqi law student, Hit , 3 February
Another ordinary day today, a trip to the market and a car journey later in the day. But last night there was some fighting right by outside my home. A gunman was firing on troops right between the houses. My family and I got very little sleep. The troops shot back at him but didn't get him. This is the problem - they don't get them, but what can we do? He escaped, and we still get caught up in the crossfire. I suppose shooting is the troops' job, even the fighter's job, but you never get any warning that this sort of thing is going to start up.
My children were upset, so they all moved into the one room together to comfort each other. My little girl was frightened, so I put the television on. We tried to make her laugh to distract her from the noise outside. She is very clever. We bought her a calculator yesterday, and she has been teaching herself how to use it all day. She has been testing her brothers and sisters!
Later today I have to drive quite a distance from Hit to see if I can get cheaper petrol. This means I have to go through the roadblocks. Normally the troops are OK, they just search for anything unlawful, any suspect objects. I'll take two friends with me for the journey, just in case the car breaks down, just to be safe.
I AM STILL HEARING AMAZING STORIES ABOUT THE ELECTION
Posted by Louay al-TahanIraqi businessman, Baghdad, 3 February
For the fourth day in a row, here in Baghdad it has been very quiet with no major incidents that I know of. I am also still hearing some amazing stories about the voting. One of our employees told us that she had to walk with her family for nearly 15 km to cast her vote because they were registered at a polling station close to her parents' home. They had to walk because of the ban on non-official vehicles on the days around the election. Also I heard how people continued pouring in to one of the al-Mansour polling stations even after the suicide bombing they had there.
Tomorrow a group of us businessmen are getting together to discuss methods to encourage business and to create new jobs. We also hope to form a pressure group to monitor the writing of the new constitution and to try to convey the concerns of businessmen to those elected to the Transitional National Assembly - and to ensure a free market economy.
People from all walks of life are expressing themselves, making their voices heard and playing a major role in the running of the country. I am very pleased with how things are moving. The fear of government and the autocratic ruler is disappearing.
These are some of the comments we have received so far about this log.
Some of the comments refer to previous logs:
These are some of the comments we have received so far about this log.
It is truly heartening to read some of these comments coming from people in Iraq who have lived through this important period in history. The Sunnis who chose to boycott their election may soon learn one of their first lessons about democracy. That is, that they have every right to defer the decisions in their country to others because they are not forced to vote. However, they will have to live with the consequences of their choice. It will not stop the momentum of the events already set in motion. The whole world is excited for Iraq and its newfound independence, even if some people in the Arab world do not believe it.
Jack Swain, Chicago, USA
Dear courageous Iraqis, I feel overwhelmed by the courage and steadfastness you all have portrayed during the past years. I praise your efforts in fulfilling the long-awaited civil obligations for your beloved country, Iraq. Someone like me from a relatively peaceful country would not have ventured to step out of the house, risking his life for the sake of voting for a president who might not be better than his predecessor.
Siona Ndum, Douala, Cameroon
Your stories of the fledgling rebuilding of your country and your hopes for the future, are very affecting. You have all been through so much. Now it is time to go forward together and to enjoy your lives again.
Rhys, Invercargill, New Zealand
Being a university student who has just voted in his first own presidential election last November, the feeling of warmth and the ability to exercise one's own free right to elect a representative government is exhilarating. I may personally disagree with our current government's methods of battling terrorist-influenced organizations/governments, but providing a country that has been oppressed for years and now finally has the chance to voice itself brings tears to my eyes as an American and a human being. Reading of the wonderful experiences voting for the first time, I too felt the same when I went to the polls. I pray that this election is the start of a long chain of good fortune for Iraq and our world as a whole.
Chris Clavin, Berkeley, CA, USA
We are at the most significant moment in the definition of the future of Iraq and as usual we Iraqis are standing still and watching without lifting a finger to help shape our future once and for all. For most Iraqis, if not all, this is the first time we have been given the opportunity to practice the most basic of rights, that of voting for our democratic future. Enough of sitting in our comfortable chairs while our country and heritage are destroyed. It is only us Iraqis that can move the country forward and this is through the first elections that can finally start to make a change.
Mohammed Adib, Barcelona, Spain
Dear Youssef, I too hope Allawi wins if he is best to get the whole of Iraq to pull together! As I was reading your letter I couldn't help wonder why you said "as much as I hate the occupation, I welcome their presence for the next couple of years until we achieve real democracy." Our troops were not sent there to occupy, as we have never been occupiers in the history of our young nation, but liberators.
Kelly Runyon-Bragg, TN, USA
We should all take a good, hard look at our own right to vote. The Iraqis have shown us that it is both a right and a privilege. The turnout in our polls looks pathetic when compared to the effort some Iraqis made to get to their polling stations. Maybe now, because of this courage shown by Iraqis, Americans will appreciate what we take for granted.
Lindy, Somerville, MA, USA
I'm so astonished at seeing the energy displayed by the Iraqi people. Their bravery in ignoring such threats is truly amazing. One thing that confuses me is that so many people are saying that democracy can't be brought about by violence or war. These people need to look at world history and they'll see that usually free nations are born through violence and often occupation. The US is no exception between the American Revolutionary War and the Civil War, our freedoms were paid for with blood just as Iraq. As far as elections being held in occupied countries, take a look at Japan and Germany. I'd say they're doing pretty good.
Jack Jarvis, Atlanta, USA
We had a joke in Iraq that after 80 years there will be people in the street hailing Saddam's grandson as a president of Iraq. That shows how Iraqis did not believe that one day they would get rid of Saddam and his family, friends and followers. I missed the event that all Iraqis dreamed of due to a work assignment in a country which did not have a polling station. But I called family members and friends to encourage them to go and vote. It was such a wonderful feeling. Just to say to the entire world: Iraq is marching forward, the road is long and difficult but we are marching.
H al-Sharifi, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Dear Tariq and other contributors, thank you very much for your posts. They give us a closer look to what is happening and in a way alleviate the natural anguish a human being has for the suffering of another. I, like many, was surprised at the response the people of Iraq towards the elections. You are a very brave and courageous nation. I pray to God that your country may reach unity in diversity soon and that it may become an example to follow.
Tarik, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
Send us your comments using the form below:
The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.