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Presidential Election Conundrum

Feature: Extra Ballot Papers – A Plan to Rig Presidential Election in Afghanistan?

Recently, Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced that more than eleven million ballot papers are printed for the upcoming September 28 presidential polls. According to IEC statistics, the total number of voters is nine and a half million. It is obvious that hundred percent turnout is not possible.
Referring to the security situation in the Afghanistan, the seventy or eighty per cent turnout is also imaginary.
So, what is the need for printing Eleven million ballot papers although the number of voters is nine and a half million.
The printing of one and a half million extra ballot papers gives the impression that the inner circle within the Arg is engineering the election process. The IEC and the Independent Election Complaints Commission (IECC) should explain why they have agreed to print 11 million ballots papers, and why there is one and half million extra Ballot papers. Is it the wastage of resources or a trick for rigging and fraud in presidential election?
The idea comes from previous 2009 and 2014 presidential elections where there were many ghost voters. The total number of fake voters were about one and half up to two million voters. There was no voter list at that time, so there was a lot of confusion.
Now that the voter lists exist and women pictures are allowed to be taken What was needed to print one and a half million extra ballot papers and transfer them to Kabul. The IEC is obliged to restore the trust of voters in this regard.
One way to restore the trust of voters is to answer public opinion questions clearly and prevent actions that create a negative impression of the election commission. Printing one and a half million extra ballot papers will create negative impression about the IEC.
The IEC Public Relations Division and the Commissioners had to contend with accurate reporting and clear, defensible action against negative perceptions about the IEC.
For example, a negative impression of the IEC is that it cannot clarify its principle of independence and that powerful individuals influence over its decisions. The election commission must show that it is fighting against this kind of propaganda.
The IEC has not yet released the voters lists by polling station so far. The commission should have published this list by now and counted the number of ballot papers as per that list. But officials in IEC have not done so far. That is why the IEC is in trouble and public opinion has not been convinced of the determination, independence and impartiality of IEC commissioners so far. The IEC can use media in this regard. Afghanistan enjoys the blessings of free media, and the IEC can exercise any unlawful influence through government officials over the commission and expose to public. This commission should not hide anything and prevent anyone who wishes to hinder the work of the commission through disclosure.
On the other hand, the IEC has to disseminate its intentions about one and half million extra ballot papers clearly so that they should be comprehended properly.
The commission should give information to the media at a formal press conference about why it has published one and a half million extra ballots and by what mechanism it prevents fraud and riggings.
The parliamentary poll was a bad experience for Afghanistan. The IEC should learn a lesson from it; in fact, it was a failure for the commission. This time it has to avoid such kind of mistakes. Current IEC commissioners need to follow their historical obligations.
Meanwhile, the election observer committee says that printing one and a half million extra ballots for the presidential election is unjustified, saying the IEC had voter lists, and had to offer only eight percent of the extra ballots given the number of voters, not sixteen percent.
Yousuf Rashid, the CEO of Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) cited the printing of precinct ballots based on non-regular voting districts, saying that extra ballots should be calculated based on the number of voters, not the number of polling stations.
He also highlighted about possibility of rigging and frauds in upcoming presidential polls.
“If IEC fails to manage these extra ballot papers, they can become a fraud tool,” he added.
He calls on the IEC to show how ballots should be used for presidential candidates, election monitoring bodies, and political party representatives.
The election commissions of Afghanistan must make sure that they work independently and strive to ensure free and fair election, as they have the sacred duty of ensuring better transition towards a truly democratic country.
(Sahar News)

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