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Max Forte's List: Afghanistan Elections 2010

    • Judges seek delay in opening Afghan parliament
    • By RAHIM FAIEZ and HEIDI VOGT, Associated Press
    • KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan tribunal investigating fraud in September's parliamentary elections said Wednesday the opening session of the legislature should be delayed one month to allow judges more time for their inquiry.

       

      The request for a delay throws further uncertainty on an election that many had hoped would demonstrate a commitment by the Afghan government to fight cronyism and corruption after a fraud-marred presidential vote in 2009 nearly undermined the authority of President Hamid Karzai.

       

      Instead, the parliamentary ballot was tainted by familiar allegations of fraud and voter intimidation, and debates since then over who gets to decide the final results have cast even more doubt on the process.

       

      The parliament had been set to start work Jan. 23 after an earlier investigation by an anti-fraud watchdog into the charges of irregularities. That group discarded 1.3 million ballots — nearly a quarter of the total — and disqualified 19 winning candidates before final results were issued on Nov. 24.

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    • Afghanistan annuls nearly a quarter of ballots
    • By HEIDI VOGT, Associated Press Writer Heidi Vogt, Associated Press Writer    –  22 mins ago
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      KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghanistan has thrown out nearly a quarter of ballots cast in last month's parliamentary elections because of fraud, according to full preliminary results released Wednesday.

       

      The findings, which confirmed earlier reports, indicated that cheating was pervasive in the Sept. 18 vote that many hoped would show the Afghan government's commitment to reforming its corrupt bureaucracy.

       

      But observers also praised the voided ballots as an achievement because it meant that the election officials had kept fraudulent ballots out of the totals.

       

      That's a major change from last year's disastrous presidential election, when election commissioners dumped obviously fraudulent ballots into the tally to help President Hamid Karzai avoid a runoff with his top challenger. It was only after drawn-out investigations that about a million ballots were thrown out — the majority of them for Karzai.

    • The 2009 presidential election nearly derailed international support for Karzai, turning this year's poll into a test of whether the government is committed to reforms seen as key for justifying NATO funding and troops.

       

      Election commission chairman Fazel Ahmad Manawi said about 1.3 million votes were disqualified out of 5.6 million — meaning about 23 percent of ballots — because of ballot-box stuffing or manipulated totals.

       

      It was not immediately clear what the results released Wednesday would mean for the makeup of the 249-member parliament.

       

      Manawi said he did not have figures on how many of the winners were incumbents, though he said he believed it was about a 50-50 split between those who were returning and new representatives.

       

      Though Karzai has repeatedly bypassed the parliament by issuing laws by decree, the legislative body also is one of the few checks on Karzai's power. A legislature loaded with Karzai allies could make it easier for the president to avoid opposition.

       

      Election officials called the vote a success because they were able to catch the fraud, but the large number of disqualified ballots may tarnish the outcome.

       

      It's possible that those living in provinces with a large number of disqualified ballots could claim that their legitimate ballots weren't counted. And in ethnically mixed provinces, there's a chance that the invalidations may favor one ethnic group over another.

       

      A five-member fraud investigation panel also still needs to rule on more than 2,000 complaints deemed serious enough to affect results before they can be finalized. It was unclear when that would happen.

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    • Robert Greenwald

         
        Posted: October 19, 2010
    • Caught on Video: Ballot Stuffing in Afghanistan
    • The backers of the current counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan have reminded us again and again over the past year-and-a-half that their strategy can't work without a legitimate government in Kabul. If that's the case, even they should admit that their plan is sunk. As Brave New Foundation's latest Rethink Afghanistan video shows, Afghanistan's elections were just stolen. Again. 

        

      And, while we continue to extol the virtues of democracy to the Afghans, we're furiously funding and training a massive military force that will answer to a government full of election-stealing thugs. If the Kabul government can't be trusted to run a legitimate election, they certainly can't be trusted with U.S.-bought weapons and a massive U.S. taxpayer-funded military force.

        

      Recall that last year, President Hamid Karzai "won" reelection in a vote that saw about 1.5 million ballots discarded on suspicion of fraud. Now, in the parliamentary elections that happened in late September, "571 polling centers have been tossed and another 1,177 polling stations are under scrutiny," and those are just the ones the corrupt election monitoring body will throw out. Video we obtained from our network in Afghanistan shows a clear and pervasive pattern of vote fraud all across the country, especially in areas cited for "progress" by General Petraeus and his colleagues. 

        

      In one clip, we can see an Afghan Border Police Officer dutifully standing watch as votes are stuffed for a particular candidate.

        

      In another, we see people with clearly marked fingers (the indicator that one has already voted) casting new ballots. 

        

      In still other clips, we find clearly underaged voters casting ballots and people haggling over the price of a bought vote. 

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    • 25 Afghan lawmakers accused of vote fruad
        

      KABUL — Afghanistan's election watchdog confirmed Sunday that more than 170 candidates who stood for parliament, including 25 current lawmakers, have been accused of electoral fraud.

      The Electoral Complaints Commission (EEC) said they have registered 4,149 complaints since polling day on September 18. More than half the complaints have been given top priority and if proven, could affect the final results.

      Of those candidates accused, 136 were referred by the Independent Election Commission and 39 by security institutions, ECC spokesman Ahmad Zia Rafaat told reporters.

      "Among the accused candidates, there are 25 members of the lower house," he said. If allegations are proven against any candidate, their votes will be nullified and they will be referred for prosecution.

      More than 2,500 candidates stood for the 249 seats in Afghanistan's lower house of parliament, or Wolesi Jirga. Over four million votes were cast at the 5,510 polling stations that opened across Afghanistan on election day.

      The election was clouded by Taliban violence and claims of fraud. Hundreds of polling centres were unable to open because of a lack of security.

      Results cannot be verified until the ECC has investigated all of the allegations of fraud and irregularities lodged at its office.

    • More than 4,000 complaints in Afghan poll
    •  

        KABUL |   Sun Oct 10, 2010

    • (Reuters) - More than 4,000 formal complaints have been submitted about Afghanistan's parliamentary poll, the election watchdog said on Sunday, with more than half of those able to affect the final results.

        

      Ahmad Zia Rafat, a commissioner on the U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) said 175 candidates out of a total of around 2,500 had been accused of fraud.

      Afghanistan's September 18 poll went ahead despite a Taliban threat to disrupt the vote, but Western nations have been wary of dubbing the election a success after the fiasco of last year's fraud-marred presidential ballot.

      The credibility of the Afghan vote will weigh heavily on U.S. President Barack Obama ahead of mid-term Congressional elections next month and as his administration prepares for a review of its Afghan policy amid sagging public support for the war.

      "Out of those candidates accused of fraud, 25 are current members of parliament," Rafat said. "If the accusations of fraud against the candidates are proven, their votes will be nullified and they will be presented to the courts."

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    • Afghan Election Disaster: Evidence of Fraud Rises, Leaving Results in Doubt

       

      Data Shows Almost Ridiculous Levels of Fraud

       
        by Jason Ditz,   October 10, 2010
    • Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission today issued a series of alarming statistics regarding the level of fraud in last month’s parliamentary election, pointing to a number of credible, high profile complaints that leave even last year’s presidential election seeming responsible by comparison.
    • Officials say 4,169 complaints were issued, centered around 175 candidates. Of these, 25 of the candidates are current members of parliament. Of the complaints, more than half were serious enough to have individually altered the outcome of a vote. About 800 complaints were related to violence while nearly 2,000 others were related to polling irregularities. Others included keeping people away from polling sites or miscounting votes.

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    • Thousands of complaints filed over Afghan elections

          

      Officials say they have received more than 4,000 complaints about the parliamentary elections in September, many of which could affect the outcome, if they are upheld.

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      October 11, 2010

    • Ahmad Zia Rafat, a member of the commission, said Sunday that 4,169 complaints had been filed, of which 55% are considered serious enough that they can shape the outcome if they're upheld under investigation. Of 2,500 candidates, 175 have been accused of fraud.
       
       "Out of those candidates accused of fraud, 25 are current members of parliament," Rafat said. "If the accusations of fraud against the candidates are proved, their votes will be nullified and they will be presented to the courts."
       
       The largest category of complaints, accounting for more than 40% of the total, related to polling irregularities, the commission said. An additional 17% involved violence or intimidation. There were smaller numbers of complaints about access to polling stations and tabulation irregularities.

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    • Afghanistan tosses out thousands of votes amid fraud probe

          

      Ballots from 10% of the nation's voting centers have been nullified as widespread complaints of vote irregularities are investigated. Preliminary results may be delayed again.

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      October 19, 2010

    • Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan —
           

      Electoral officials sifting through thousands of complaints of vote fraud in last month's parliamentary elections said Monday that ballots from about one-tenth of Afghanistan's voting centers had been tossed out, with more disqualifications likely.

      The release of preliminary results, now due Wednesday, has been delayed twice as authorities scrutinize a welter of allegations including ballot box stuffing and vote buying, as well as armed intimidation of voters.

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