September 20th, 2010
10:26 AM ET

Watchdog group: Many Afghans denied right to vote

Many Afghans were denied the right to vote in parliamentary elections because the country is too dangerous and because of logistical failures, an independent election watchdog said Monday.

But the relatively high level of voter participation and security arrangements for voting on Saturday were positive signs, the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan said.

There have already been arrests for vote fraud in the wake of the voting, police in Afghanistan said Monday.

Some 45 people were detained on suspicion of vote fraud in Logar province, police chief Mustafa Mohsini said Monday.

But 39 were released without charge, said Den Mohammad Darwish, a spokesman for the province's governor.

Discrepancies between the number of voters in the parliamentary election and last year's presidential election had already raised questions about Saturday's results.

Saturday night, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced it recorded a 40 percent turnout, with 3.6 million votes cast out of a total of 9.2 million eligible voters.

But in the widely criticized presidential elections of August 2009, the IEC reported 11.4 million eligible voters.

And the commission's website reports a total of 16.7 million voters have been registered in Afghanistan since 2003.

Despite praise from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai regarding Saturday's balloting, the statistics suggest a dismal turnout, with nearly a million fewer votes cast than in the national election a year ago.

The IEC reported nearly 4.6 million valid ballots cast last year.

Asked about the discrepancies, an IEC official said the registered voter population was reduced after the commission was forced to close nearly 20 percent of the country's polling centers on Saturday due to Taliban violence.

"Polling centers were closed because of security reasons," said Qani, an official at the foreign relations department of the IEC who, per Afghan tradition, uses only one name.

"The population of those areas were deducted from the total population of registered voters which was 11.4 million."

Some election observers, however, are calling for clarity.

"The different numbers they are presenting are not consistent," said Nader Naderi, the chairman of Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, the Kabul-based election watchdog organization.

Afghanistan's electoral process suffered a huge blow to its credibility after investigators found evidence of widespread fraud in the 2009 presidential election.

The United Nations eventually disqualified more than 1 million fraudulent votes.

"We believe and hope that they learned a lesson that massive fraud will be detected and is unacceptable," Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. special representative for Afghanistan, told CNN.

At the polls on Saturday, many voters and candidates expressed doubt and skepticism about the election, which came with a price tag of approximately $150 million.

"I saw fraud many places," said Jamil Karzai, a parliament member who was running for re-election.

"It is not a real election," said Abdul Qader Zazai Watandost, who at the age of 30 was making his second attempt at being elected to parliament.

He accused the IEC of actively supporting candidates at the polls.

"There were large swaths of the population who were unable to participate, whether because they didn't want to or because they were prevented by violence or discouraged by fraud," said Candace Rondeaux, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group.

Despite the deployment of hundreds of thousands of police and soldiers across the country on Saturday, Afghan officials said Taliban-related violence claimed the lives of at least 12 civilians along with at least three Afghan police officers and an Afghan soldier.

CNN's Matiullah Mati, Ivan Watson and Najib Sharifi contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Afghanistan elections
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Desmadre

    Trying to make Afghanistan in our image is comical. Hardly anyone can read and do not understand politics. They have tribal chieftans and that system works well for them. If you want to help Afghanistan, help their tribal chieftans keep foreigners out of their territories: Taliban, Al Qaeda, and any others. The USA cannot even get its own poor and illiterate to vote! Truly comical. Too little common sense. Too much money to waste.

    September 24, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  2. LarryKegel(US Army)

    It would be if you lie and do things against God Children!!! It isn't hard to go from One Country to another rather than Israel!!! They can't afford to let the Tarriest in there as is...

    September 24, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. Murtaza

    Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires, and the sooner the US realizes this, the better it will be for everyone.

    September 23, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Parris Larrain

    My son reports he has a met a few of this type soldier who have returned from duty in that area. He says it is apparent they have been brainwashed and that they are very violent. Good job US MILITARY :: he said they are very frightening people these guys!!

    September 22, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Reader

    There is no such thing as a Muslim? Are you serious?

    September 21, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kilted

    You know, there are medications you can take to alleviate those symptoms of delusional schizophrenia these days. I recommend talking to your doctor about getting a referral for a specialist to do a psych evaluation.

    September 21, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. McJesus

    The Afghans learn well by observing the US election system. Soon they'll be putting in faulty voting machines and/or complex forms that the vast majority of undereducated Afghans won't be able to use... excluding voting to the elite. They'll develop exclusion lists, discarding votes of anyone deemed unworthy. They'll strategically redistrict based on political leanings to better control outcomes. They'll play a game of two-party politics dividing the public on meaningless wedge issues rather than issues of substance. All being a ploy to divide to better allow the 'selection' of a few chosen candidates to run for office. We all know about the corrupt electoral system in Afganistan already with massive vote rigging. Karzai was put in power by the USA and the USA wants him there. That is why he is there. Saddam was put in power of Iraq, because the US put him there. His predecessor was assassinated. When he turned bad, they took him out. The US also meddled in Iran, in Panama, in Nicragua, etc. The list goes on and on. Find a non-western 3rd world US goon nation, and you'll find semi-dictators that typically 'go bad' and require intervention or assassination. Same old story. All it takes is open ears and eyes to see it.

    September 21, 2010 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Kraznodar

      Telling the truth to Americans will make us hate you. Just so you know.

      September 21, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
      • LarryKegel(US Army)

        The Americans already know the truth!!! These Racist listen to Fox to get Their news... So what more can You expect from Them???

        September 22, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      Yeah, riiiiight, "bangash". As if WE put Saddam Hussein in power. It couldn't be he assassinated he predecessor.
      You're really easy to spot, bangash. Your anti-American bias is obvious and your grasp of history is tenuous at best.

      Stop reading anti-US blogs and read a history book for a change.

      September 21, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Smith in Oregon

    High levels of voting? What? you mean rampant fraudulent ballot box stuffing as occurred during the previous Harmid Karzai reaffirmation election which many nations around the world viewed as entirely fraudulent and a SHAM.

    Many observers are reporting fewer than 25% of the Afghanistan residents that could vote, did vote. Such is simply a PR move to produce the illusion of a democracy when in fact the Karzai Government is a Dictatorship plain, clear and simple propped up by the machine gun's of the America soldiers, JUST as the former KGB placed Afghanistan dictatorship the Soviet Union had under the guise of 'President of Afghanistan'.

    September 20, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      Gee, if that were the case, he do whatever we want. Like not being corrupt and not going behind our backs to talk with the Taliban. So it appears your portrayal that we're just like the commies is way off the mark. Big surprise there!

      September 20, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
      • Smith in Oregon

        Get a clue before you post instead of simply a pathetic spew of bile and nonsense. Karzai and UN's envoys were actively engaged with a full dozen top Taliban commanders in Pakistan crafting a peace treaty. The CIA and Pakistani ISI agents burst in, deliberately stopped the peace treaty conference, briefly detained those dozen of Top Taliban Commanders before releasing them to KILL more American and NATO soldiers as well as continue to undermine the Karzai government in Afghanistan. WHY did the CIA and Pakistan's ISI break up that peace treaty conference? Both Karzai and the UN were utterly shocked. The reason stated in both Pakistan and India's newspapers was the conference was felt to unfairly tilt towards the interests of India, whom Pakistan see's as it's sworn enemy.

        The rounded up Top Taliban Commanders were only briefly detained, then released. HOW CORRUPT can the CIA and Pakistan's ISI GET?

        September 21, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robrob

      Gotta start somewhere. A corrupt, low turn out vote is better than no vote and a President for Life. Baby steps.

      September 21, 2010 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
      • atal

        True, you have to start somewhere.

        September 21, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • LarryKegel(US Army)

        Smith In Orgen: I hope You know that is not Me using that handle anymore??? He is nothing but a Idiot because He uses someone else with His Crap!!!

        I think what Pakistan and the CIA is doing the right thing to fight against Tarriest!!! Hopefully between them and Us and the Afghanistan will change the way things will be done there from here on in...

        September 22, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bailoutsos

    Wow. In Vernon, CA everyone was told how to vote. So why are Americas in Iraq and Afghanistan dying to give them the right to vote and some cannot do that in America? Democracy at work.

    September 20, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      Put down that opium pipe, Mr. Taliban, it's causing you to hallucinate.

      September 20, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
      • Gods chosen people

        psst. Allah is not looking at everything you type...You are brainwashed beyond interpretation

        September 21, 2010 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
      • disaster for humanity

        I knew you were clinging to tight to your theology, your not healthy

        September 21, 2010 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
      • god in trintarian

        LA ?

        September 21, 2010 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      Because the Republicans say do what I say not what I do!!!

      September 22, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bangash

    Afghans are, probably the first nation, on the surface of the earth, by nature, by culture and by birth, more democratic then any other nation. Being a gateway or a corridor between the West and East, all the big one of the world have invaded this land as its inhabitants due to their strong traditions, enjoyed peace and prosperity, therefore had never resorted to excel in weapons making. Recent two centuries long Western invasions are mainly responsible for what we today call terrorism as first British Imperialism used this region and its people, then USA in war against USSR and today in war on terror. Just thirty years back among 10% civilians, major weapon was English semi automatic Rifle 303 while 90% had no weapon at all. With blessings of US THREE decades military engagements on this land today hills and plains are full of all deadly weapons, and once these most peaceful people, are today main threat to the world peace.
    So the best way to avert this threat to world peace, is to leave Afghans to live at their will, free of all external interference. However West and East must help in reconstruction, rehabilitation and reawakening of Afghan which these big ones have buried in Afghan soil in pursuit of their nefarious designs. This is the land where fate of the world is decided therefore now it is a time to see the past, manage present and make the future. I think in this internet age it is not difficult to asses the cost which whole humanity has to pay if failed to CHANGE for the best.

    September 20, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      Obviously, you live in a country that doesn't believe in democracy, since you don't understand the word. What we're doing there is CREATING democracy, where everyone gets a chance to vote for representatives, where women can go to school and run for office, unlike under the Taliban or the commies.

      If you're going to blame anyone for the fate of the Afghans, then blame the Paki Taliban who invaded and took over the country, then made it a haven for al Qaeda to train international terrorists.

      "Leaving Afghans to live at their will" means surrendering it back to the Taliban, so they can once again enslave the population and create a safe haven for terrorist training. If you truly cared for the Afghans, instead of wanting the terrorists to take over the country, you'd help us in our cause to free them.

      September 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan in Lafayette, IN

        Mafia is a group of people who by force take control of peoples lives which is exactly what the Taliban did when they ruled Afghanistan!!!!!!

        September 20, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
      • LarryKegel(US Army)

        Why are You still using My Old Name??? Why don't You use Yours instead???

        September 22, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Why do we have to help with reconstruction? If we're out, we're out. Ask Karzai and the minister of mines to dump their piggy banks upside down. You would be suprised at what falls out.

      September 22, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
      • LarryKegel(US Army)

        Isn't that the same thing the Catholic Religion is doing in the US???

        September 22, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
      • Alexander the Catholic

        Since 1776. How's that working out?

        September 24, 2010 at 6:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Alexander

      So the Pakistanis can dominate Afghansitan?
      Are you a glib agent for Pakistan?


      September 24, 2010 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      There they are denied voting!!! Here the Supreme Court took the vote from the People... So what is the difference???

      September 25, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |