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Huge turnout in Tunisian election

Close to 70 percent of Tunisians turned out its first free election today.

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Tunisians prepare for the election on Sunday, the first of the Arab Spring. (LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)

A huge turnout of Tunisians showed up to the polls today for the country’s first free election, Reuters reports.

In some areas where polling booths had shut, people were still waiting to vote, Reuters reports. About 300 people turned out in the conservative district of Ettadamen in Tunis.

"Everyone who is inside will be allowed vote, even if it takes us to midnight," an officer said, Reuters reports.

Read more at GlobalPost: Tunisia vote: Elections seen as litmus test for Arab Spring

The election comes 10 months after Tunisians started protesting and forced President Zine al-Abidine to flee the country, starting the Arab Spring. Although protests have subdued since January and Tunisians are battling through tough economic times, election day brought back the same feelings from the beginning of the Arab Spring.

The choosing of a constituent assembly, which has turned into a battle between Islamists and secularists, is a sign that fresh voices and political powers are creating a new nation out of Ben Ali’s defeated police state, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"I hope the success of this election is a sign to the rest of the Arab world," said Mohamed Ghazlani, the L.A. Times reports. "I want our new government to be a mosaic of parties. No one faction should dominate, otherwise we’ll return to the old ways of the ruling party.

Read more at GlobalPost: Tunisia votes for new democracy

U.S. President Barack Obama praised Tunisians on Sunday for their first election since the revolt, the Associated Press reports. "The United States reaffirms its commitment to the Tunisian people as they move toward a democratic future that offers dignity, justice, freedom of expression, and greater economic opportunity for all," Obama said in a statement, AP reports.

Tunisian pride soared as lines at voting booths stretched for miles from the early morning, Reuters reports. Voter turnout was close to 70 percent, with three hours left before polls closed, said Kamel Jandoubi, head of the independent commission organizing the vote, Reuters reports.

Preliminary results are expected on Monday.

Read more at GlobalPost: Tunisia's democracy has a head start

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/111023/huge-turnout-tunisian-election