Mounting Claims of Voter Fraud in Thursday Vote
Though the official results won’t be released for weeks, the raw polling station data being collected by media outlets and observers has incumbent Afghan President Hamid Karzai winning reelection in Thursday’s disputed election with an enormous margin of 72 percent to 23 percent over principal rival Abdullah Abdullah.
Karzai’s victory celebration will likely be taken with something of a grain of salt amid reports by observers of widespread voter fraud and biased officiating. Though Karzai had been winning in pre-vote polling, he was expected to garner only between 36 and 44 percent of the vote, setting up a widely expected run-off vote with Abdullah.
The Afghan Electoral Complaints Commission has received 225 complaints about the irregularities since voting day, many of them from the Abdullah campaign, which has also claimed an improbably wide margin of victory for their candidate. The commission has promised to look into the 35 most serious allegations, which they said could have effected the outcome of the vote.
Many of the allegations seem serious and have considerable independent confirmation. Official claims of massive turnout, particularly among female voters in rural district, came despite media on site noting that virtually no voters came and there was no staff to handle female voters.
The vote is almost certain to draw comparisons to June’s president vote in neighboring Iran, another case where a widely expected runoff was forestalled by a landslide victory for the incumbent under shady circumstances. Abdullah has promised however, citing US concerns, that he won’t protest too vociferously over the results and will not back massive protests as were seen in Iran.
Official preliminary results are expected to be available in early September, with final results coming some time after that. Though the Independent Election Commission is theoretically in charge of overseeing the disputed vote, it should be noted they are appointed entirely by the incumbent president.
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