Afghanistan AG opens voter fraud investigation

[JURIST] Afghanistan's Attorney General's (AG) office announced Wednesday it will investigate possible voter fraud committed by the country's election commission after the parliamentary election [IEC backgrounder] held in September. A deputy attorney general said that the office has received complaints [WP report] that election officials working for the Independent Election Commission (IEC) [official website], which is responsible for investigating complaints of voter fraud in the country, allegedly tampered with voting results. The AG's office expressed concern that the IEC did not provide sufficient reason for last month's invalidation of 1.3 million votes, constituting nearly one-fourth of the 5.6 million votes cast nationwide [AP report]. The ballots were thrown out [JURIST report] due to alleged findings by the IEC that the 2,543 polling stations involved did not follow IEC procedures. The new investigation may also involve a second Afghan election monitoring organization, the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) [official website], which is also responsible for invalidating ballots [media release, PDF] and disqualifying political candidates. IEC officials argue that the AG's office does not have authority to investigate voting fraud [CP report], but the AG's office emphasized their responsibility to investigate crime and eliminate corruption.

The election was held in September after being postponed by four months [BBC report] due to logistical and security concerns and was contested by 2,500 candidates competing for the 249 seats in the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the Afghan parliament. Following the disputed 2009 presidential election [JURIST news archive], the ECC invalidated results from 210 polling stations [JURIST report]. The ECC found clear and convincing evidence of fraud and also ordered the IEC to invalidate a percentage of votes from both candidates. In April, Karzai blamed foreign officials for the extensive irregularities [JURIST report] that occurred during the presidential election. Though admitting that fraud was widespread, Karzai accused UN and EU representatives of attempting to influence vote counts. In November 2009, Karzai was declared the winner of the election [JURIST report] after challenger Abdullah Abdullah [BBC profile] withdrew from the runoff election due to his belief that a free and fair vote was impossible.

 

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