UN-backed Afghanistan electoral commission orders partial recount of votes

[JURIST] The UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) [official website] on Tuesday ordered [press release, PDF] Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) [official website] to conduct a partial recount of votes from polling stations with high irregularities. According to ECC investigations:


The overwhelming majority in which the ECC found clear and convincing evidence of fraud were also characterized by either an exceptionally high number of presidential votes cast per station in relation to the number of ballots available; or an exceptionally high percentage of ballots cast for only one candidate; or both. The ECC also notes that the overwhelming majority of stations in which it found fraud had a number of ballots cast that were far in excess of what could be expected based on credible observer reports of low voter turnout.

Also Tuesday, the European Union Election Observation Mission to Afghanistan [official website] confirmed [press release, PDF] that "large scale ballot stuffing took place at polling station level" resulting in "hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes ... included among the preliminary official results posted on the IEC's website." And on Sunday, Afghanistan's highest ranking female judge Mehro Hameed told the Daily Telegraph that the recent pardons of five convicted major drug traffickers by President Hamid Karzai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] were a severe barrier to the rule of law [Telegraph report] in the country. The nephew of Karzai's campaign manager was among the pardoned.

The IEC said Saturday that it is conducting its role faithfully and impartially [JURIST report] in an attempt to reassure the Afghan public amid allegations of voter fraud in the recent presidential election [JURIST news archive], mainly in response to complaints by Abdullah Abdullah [BBC profile] who was the central challenger to Karzai. The IEC also announced Sunday that it invalidated [AP report] the results of 447 polling stations because of claims of fraud, but retracted on Monday alleging lack of authority to exclude such ballots. Abdullah said his campaign has filed more than 100 complaints [JURIST report] with the ECC alleging ballot stuffing, inflated vote counts, and intimidation at the polls by Karzai supporters. Election observers also reported at least two instances of voters fingers, marked with indelible ink to avoid voter fraud, being cut off by Taliban insurgents [Los Angeles Times report].

 

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