Claims of Fraud as Afghan Vote Numbers Don’t Add Up

Violent districts see improbably high turnouts

The counting continues in Afghanistan’s presidential election, and claims of fraud, virtually inevitable in that country, are starting to grow, with some vote totals in violence-torn districts much higher than would make sense.

Takhar Province claimed 64,226 people voted, but the election commission reports a much higher count. In Helmand, one very dangerous district saw 8,000 votes, when a nearby, calmer one reported only 6,000.

Where it really gets improbable, however, is in Kunduz, where large Taliban attacks were ongoing just days before the vote. One of the battle-scarred districts reported 5,000 voters, a major turnout in the remote area, while another district reported 26 people over the entire day.

The Election Commission is being pushed to confirm exact numbers at exact polling places, with an eye toward potential situations where more votes were cast than there were registered voters. Nangarhar, where reported turnout went from 22,813 votes to 254,871 votes with no explanation, is a likely candidate.

It’s not clear who this benefits most, but former warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar seemed to believe it was strongly benefiting President Ghani. He was calling on the government to only count votes cast with legal biometrics, suggesting that if only those were counted, Ghani probably wouldn’t even make the final two for a run-off vote and would come in third place.

Ghani, for his part, declared victory almost immediately. His chief challenger, Afghan CEO Abdullah Abdullah, also declared victory, and it is not clear either got the 50% needed to avoid a run-off.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.