The August Presidential election in Afghanistan was originally planned for early spring, but was delayed citing the need to more preparation time to run elections in the large, insecure nation with little infrastructure. Even with this extra lead time the election was marred by massive fraud and intimidation, and many districts were unable to vote at all.
So how, with less than three weeks to prepare, is Afghanistan expected to do a better job with its runoff vote? The quick answer is that very few people are expecting it to be any better, with all the same ineffective mechanisms in place and a host of new problems to contend with.
US officials, including top advisor Bruce Riedel are preparing for the likelihood that this vote will be “a second fiasco,” all the while preparing for the realization that a third round is completely impossible.
Sure, the United Nations made a point of ousting a few hundred of the most crooked election officials, but this was likely only the tip of the iceberg in a coordinated effort to manufacture over a million votes for incumbent President Hamid Karzai.
The violence which kept the turnout disappointingly low in August is just as bad today. After the disastrous first round cynicism about government corruption is at a new high as well. Coupling these with the prospect that early snowfall could make voting impossible across much of the country, the turnout rate could be precipitously lower this time around, which will only fuel doubts about the government’s legitimacy.