Afghan election fraud allegations mount as Karzai lead widens
Though many Afghan citizens and politicians are alleging fraud, analysts say getting to the bottom of what happened is a difficult exercise.
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Rabmal had explained that two separate computer systems are tallying the votes to catch any programmer tampering. And he told AP they will do statistical analyses on the results to look for anomalies in the data, such as Mr. Karzai getting 10 percent of the vote in three of four polling stations in the same area but 95 percent in a fourth station.Skip to next paragraph
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Afghans commonly question the independence of the IEC. The head of the electoral commission was appointed by Karzai without legislative or judicial oversight.
In Afghanistan's last round of national elections in 2004 and 2005 a lot of raw material was lost – ballot boxes went missing and registration data disappeared. The commissions archives became a scattered mess.
"There's no central repository for baseline figures, and that complicates the picture," says Candace Rondeaux, a senior analyst in Kabul with the International Crisis Group. On top of that, solid analysis "is very difficult" because of incomplete voter registration, problems with delivering election materials, and a lack of information about the security environment surrounding polling stations.
Not enough observers
"The lack of access for local and international observers is going to play a very big role. It will certainly give a candidate who is behind in the race the advantage of saying this process was not legitimate, we were unable to get our candidate agents in some polling stations," says Ms. Rondeaux.
Top candidate Mr. Abdullah was the only opponent of Karzai's who was able to field large numbers of observers. But he says he covered 20,000 out of 28,000 stations due to last minute credentialing, Taliban violence, and intimidation.
Even with partial coverage of the election by observers, at least 1,461 complaints have already been filed with the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC). More than 150 of these, if found true, could change the final election tallies. The ECC includes international experts, but its mandate is merely to investigate specific irregularities – not analyze patterns to judge the entirety of the election.
If they judge a specific complaint to be valid, they can force a revote in a polling station or the invalidation of some votes. They do have the power to call a countrywide do-over, but that won't happen, says ECC spokesperson Nellika Little. Ultimately, it's the IEC – headed by a Karzai appointee – that will certify the election.
"It's going to be what the international community and the Afghans … determine," he says. "The choice is not between fair and not fair, it's how fair, how unfair. That's what it's going to come down to."