U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Iraq's elections went better than expected, despite violence and reports of voting problems.

Ms. Rice said the vote was not perfect, but she said it was a key step forward since the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein.

She said Iraqi voters are finding what she called "the voice of freedom."

Ms. Rice also said she talked to President Bush, who said today is a great day for the Iraqi people.

President Bush is at the White House monitoring reports on the election.