Concerns are being raised over the transparency of the vote recount process as the Independent Election Commission gets closer to announcing the results of the September polling.
The Election Commission has vowed to complete the vote recounting process in all 34 provinces ahead of Nov. 14, but it has not clarified whether it will recount the total votes, which, according to the IEC, currently stands over 1.8 million.
Noor Rahman Akhlaqi, a representative of the Stability and Convergence campaign team led by Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, at a press conference on Monday called for recounting votes from 12,000 ballot boxes, from a total of over 26,000 ballot boxes.
Akhlaqi also called for action on questionable votes:
“Decisions should be made on the 300,000 votes that are still undetermined,” Akhlaqi said, referring to 300,000 votes that includes 137,630 votes under “server quarantine,” according to a letter by Dermalog, the company which provided biometric devices for the elections.
The 300,000 votes also includes over 102,000 votes which were cast after the election day, and over 70,000 votes for which duplicate photos or “nonstandard” photos were used, according to Akhlaqi.
The scant role played by international observers in the electoral process has concerned the Campaign teams, who specifically asked the United Nations to step up in this area.
“It (the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) could have prevented many issues if it had played its monitoring role as an impartial international organization, but now I think it is too late,” presidential candidate Mohammad Shahab Hakimi said.
“We expect a thorough monitoring of the recounting process that will take place in the centers of the provinces,” Akhlaqi said.
Some in the Election Commission see the use of new technology as an achievement because it ensures transparency. Zabihullah Sadat, a spokesman for the commission, suggested to the campaign teams that if they wanted monitoring, they should have used their own observers:
“Observers of the candidates should also do their jobs on time and should not prevent others’ work,” said Sadat.
The Election Commission announced last week that it would begin the vote recounting process on Monday, Nov. 4, but monitoring organizations said the electoral body is not ready to begin this process, and so there is the possibility of another delay in the preliminary results announcement.
According to the Election Commission’s timeline, the workers tasked with vote recounting should have been sent to provincial centers between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2, but the process has not started so far.
“Our colleagues are working so that they can send employees to the provinces and begin the audit and recounting process as soon as possible,” Sadat said.
“The (election) commission has lost its trust among the people and now it faces problems,” Ahmadi, an election observer, said.
Another presidential candidate, Rahmatullah Nabil, accused the Independent Election Commission of incompetency and said that providing contradictory information and delay in the results affects people’s trust in the electoral organizations.
“The people of Afghanistan are faced with uncertainty. The (election) commission so far has not shown its capacity,” said Nabil.
“We have less than eight days for results announcement and there is a need for expediting the process by the commission,” said Samira Rasa, a spokesperson for the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, a Kabul-based electoral monitoring group.