Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, a three-time presidential contender, on Sunday criticized the Independent Election Commission, or IEC, for “ignoring” the demands of presidential candidates to sort out disputed votes, saying efforts are underway to add “fraudulent votes” into the total number tallied from the September 28 election day.
The dispute over valid votes halted the vote recount and delayed the announcement of the preliminary results, which was scheduled for Nov. 14.
IEC chairperson Hawa Alam Nuristani at a news conference on Saturday said that the IEC “agreed” with the presidential candidates and that the vote recount process will resume on Sunday.
But Abdullah said that Nuristani’s press briefing was “not acceptable,” and it shows the commission is “favoring” the State Builder election campaign team, which is led by President Ghani.
“The Election Commission has not given a clear response to any criticism from our side,” Abdullah said.
“The IEC must try not to undermine its legitimacy,” Abdullah said. “The people will respect those IEC decisions that are made according to the law.”
He reiterated that those votes without biometric data must be invalidated.
“The Election Commission should give details about the 300,000 votes according to the law,” he said, referring to the disputed votes from over 8,000 polling stations.
What are the disputed votes?
TOLOnews has obtained the following information from the Independent Election Commission:
According to the IEC, 26,586 polling stations out of a total of 29,586 polling stations were open on the election.
The commission received paper ballots from 25,566 polling stations, but it has corresponding biometric information for only 24,842 polling stations, and the election teams want the paper, “non-biometric” votes disqualified.
Of the biometric votes, the election campaign teams agree with the IEC on the validity of 18,850 polling stations – which include more than 1.8 million votes.
But the commission later added votes from 8,486 polling stations to the total tally, and intend to recount them with the rest.
The problem is that of these 8,486 polling stations, the election campaign teams have only agreed that the votes from 3,484 stations are valid, and should be recounted.
The election teams say that votes from more than half of these 8,000 polling stations---whose votes number almost 300,000--should not be counted for various reasons.
137,000 of the 300,000 votes in question were originally isolated by Dermalog, the German firm which provided the biometric devices. Dermalog flagged the votes for various irregularities and because of the suspicion of fraud, with instances like the duplicate use of photos, or photos of photos.
The disputed 300,000 also includes over 88,000 votes which came in before or after the accepted polling day hours.
The third category is votes from 724 polling stations that were electronically sent in to the IEC from biometric devices or memory cards that were subsequently “lost.” Votes from these centers have been estimated at around 70,000.
Abdullah’s New Stance
“We have decided not to participate in the vote recounting process. The commission’s impartiality will be questioned if it does not review its decision (on resuming vote recounting) and our next decision will be made after that,” Abdullah said.
“Votes from 2,400 ballot boxes have been entered into the server that don’t have (biometric) data,” Abdullah said, adding “There are more than 100,000 votes that came outside the valid time (Before and after the voting process started).”
“We want the ghost votes to be invalidated," Abdullah added.
He stated that the presidential candidates have sent several documents to the IEC and asked legitimate questions about the election process, but so far the commission has not replied to even one of them.
“Any ‘illegal decision’ on the election will create an opportunity for a crisis… I see an opportunity today for the Election Commission to rethink its ‘illegal decisions’,” Abdullah concluded.