While international observers cheered the Afghan election as a great “victory,” the domestic election observer group Officials with the Free and Fair Elections Foundation of Afghanistan, which dispatched an enormous 7,000 observers across the nation, wasn’t nearly so upbeat.
In keeping with the various media reports we’ve heard, the group cautioned that the election saw widespread fraud, including biased election workers and ballot stuffing. And that’s only in the places where security concerns didn’t force the polls to close entirely.
This was largely in keeping with anecdotal evidence from the Times of London, which noted in an article published this morning that one of the polling places they visited outside Kabul saw essentially no voters the entire time they were there, but claimed to have 5,530 votes. Since the Times arrived an hour after the polls opened, workers claimed all the voters had come and left, meaning they were processing over 100 ballots a minute.
Perhaps even more absurd, the polling place claimed to have over 3,000 women voters, even though it didn’t have any female staff and women aren’t allowed to vote without female staff present. The ballots of women, however, have been reported to be available for sale on the open market for as little as $8 each. One of the staff confided as well that “they are all voting for (incumbent President Hamid) Karzai.”
But while top challenger Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has promised to mount a “vigorous” challenge to any attempt by Karzai to “steal” the election, but noting that the Americans “are very wary of the fragility of the situation” he promised to make it a “responsible” one.
This seemed to be an attempt to ensure the international forces that he would not become this nation’s Mir-Hossein Moussavi, who months after the disputed vote in Iran remains a thorn in that regime’s side. Abdullah has promised to prevent public demonstrations, “otherwise this country could go into turmoil.”
And if the massive death tolls and endless wars of today are Afghanistan pre-turmoil, one certainly doesn’t want that, fraudulent elections notwithstanding.