Afghanistan’s Election ‘Success’ – Violence, Fraud and Low Turnout

Petraeus Lauds Election as 'Powerful Message'

Officials were trumpeting Saturday’s parliamentary election in Afghanistan as a resounding success, with General David Petraeus insisting it “sent a powerful message” to the insurgency and other NATO officials maintaining that violence wasn’t nearly as bad as expected.

But the reality on the ground was at least 18 deaths, widespread fraud and intimidation, and security problems which kept roughly 20% of the country unable to vote at all.

Voter turnout was expected to be robust, with a pre-vote poll showing a bizarre split between cynicism about the massive corruption and yet that 70% of Afghans planned on voting. The reality was that they didn’t, not even close.

Official turnout figures from IEC said 40% of eligible voters cast ballots, but this was revealed to be a fudged estimate based on an artificially reduced eligibility number. In reality only 3.6 million votes were cast, and data points to over 16 million registered voters in the nation.

And of course, 3.6 million votes in Afghanistan doesn’t mean 3.6 million voters, as fake voting cards were being sold openly in bazaars and ballot stuffing was reported at multiple sites. Between these and the reports of bribery and coercion, reports of violence and ballots running out, the results of the election seem to be exactly what the polls suggested, an unfair vote.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.