Iraqi voters reportedly turned out in large numbers for the country's first parliamentary election in half a century Sunday. Although terror incidents surged, the number of casualties was lower than many had feared.

Iraqi election officials estimated that 8 million people voted, or about 57% of eligible voters, wire reports said. Another preliminary count will be tallied tomorrow and final results released in about 10 days.

Turnout in some Kurdish and Shiite regions was said to top 80% of registered voters as Iraqis braved threats of insurgent violence to cast ballots. Voters were picking representatives who will draft a constitution for the war-torn country and choose leaders for a temporary government.

Media reports put the number of Iraqis killed in some 175 terror attacks at anywhere from a dozen to close to 40. While the number of deaths was far higher than has occurred on a typical day during the U.S. military occupation, it fell well short of many worst-case scenarios and didn't appear to deter a healthy turnout in most regions.

More than 20 of the deaths occurred in Baghdad, according to Reuters, while another 29 were wounded in the attacks there.

"The world is hearing the voice of freedom from the center of the Middle East," President Bush said in Washington. His new secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, called it "a remarkable day for the Iraqi people."