Kabul, October 28, 2010 –The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) expressed concern Thursday regarding the recounting and exclusion of ballots from the September 18 parliamentary elections and called on the electoral institutions to demonstrate Greater transparency as the 2010 electoral process enters its final weeks.
FEFA, which that fielded the largest number of NGO observers on Election Day and throughout campaign season, said the recounting and exclusion process was mishandled in many areas of the country. In at least 23 provinces, observers reported serious recounting problems such as missing reconciliation sheets and complaints forms, discrepancies between tally sheet totals and votes contained in recounted ballot boxes, candidates’ agents blocked from observing recounts, and observers barred from signing reconciliation forms. Observers reported hundreds of ballot boxes affected in each category.
“The lack of transparency shown by Independent Election Commission (IEC) officials in many areas and the lack of respect shown for the role of non-governmental observers and andidates’ agents is alarming and at odds with the Electoral Law,” said FEFA executive director Jandad Spinghar.
Article 57 of Afghanistan’s Electoral Law states that the IEC ‘can include or permanently exclude the quarantined ballot boxes from the counting process after inspection in the presence of observers and representatives of political parties and candidates.’
The discrepancy between the estimated voter turnout announced shortly after Election Day and the number given with the preliminary results on October 20 also worried observers. Initially, the IEC estimated around 4 million votes were cast on Election Day. That estimate jumped to more than 5 million when the preliminary results were announced. FEFA attempted to contact the IEC for clarification on the matter, but was unsuccessful.
“We again call on the IEC to provide a full and public explanation of how it arrived at the final voter turnout estimate,” Spinghar said.
FEFA also called on the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) to investigate and respond to all complaints related to the IEC’s insufficient transparency before the announcement of the final results in the coming weeks.
More than 4,500 complaints were submitted to the ECC this year, and 295 candidates, including 25 sitting parliamentarians, are currently under investigation for electoral fraud.