Western diplomats tonight are confirming that there was widespread voter fraud in Afghanistan, with most perpetuated on behalf of the campaign of incumbent President Hamid Karzai. Though such reports have been persistant since last month’s vote, the scope of the fraud is sure to surprise even the most hardened skeptic.
For one thing, officials say about 800 polling sites, nearly 15% of the overall number in the election, never actually opened and indeed “existed only on paper.” That didn’t stop the sites from reporting thousands of votes. Unsurprisingly, President Karzai did remarkably well among fictitious voters.
In some provinces officials are also saying that the ballot box stuffing was so severe that President Karzai got 10 times as many votes as there were people who actually voted. Though officials have disqualified 447 stations so far, the number seems to be a drop in the bucket compared to what officials say is “fraud en masse.”
The latest reports are likely to do serious harm to US ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s claims that the Afghan election was a “great success” and that the fraud was the sort of thing that “happens in every democracy.”