Speaking in Nairobi, Kenya, Powell said the risk of heightened bloodshed pales in comparison to the damage that would be done by postponing or canceling the vote.
"We all are concerned that this insurgency is going to continue," he said. "But the alternative cannot be to keep postponing elections or not having elections."
Speaking to Fox News Sunday, Powell said he disagreed with remarks made last week by former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, who said, "Rather than turning out to be a promising turning point, (the elections) have great potential for deepening the conflict."
Scowcroft served in the administration of former President George H.W. Bush and warned of a possible civil war in Iraq between majority-Shiite and minority-Sunni Muslims. He suggested the United States' best course of action would be to hand over the Iraqi operation to NATO or the United Nations.