Sample Audit Ongoing

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As an audit of a sample of suspicious polling stations continues, the prospect of a runoff election is still unclear

The ECC and IEC are currently conducting an audit of a sample of the ballot boxes which meet the criteria defined in the September 8 ECC audit order. 3,498 polling stations meet the audit criteria, but they have decided only to audit a sample of these - roughly ten percent. They’ve separated the ballot boxes into six categories and are auditing a total of 358 ballot boxes.

Six audit teams are responsible for conducting the entire audit. Each team is composed of three members – an IEC team leader, an IEC team member, and a team member from UNDP elect. All audits are conducted at an audit center in Kabul which is supervised jointly by a team which consists of IEC, ECC, and UNDP-Elect staff.  Candidate agents and observers do have access to the audit center, although the results of individual audits are not being released, as they are considered part of an ongoing investigation.

To conduct an audit, the audit team uses a checklist which covers four main stages: a visual inspection of the ballot box, opening of the ballot box to discover if tampering occurred, whether the box contains the necessary materials, and whether or not the actual contents display signs of fraud. Such physical indicators of fraud include unfolded ballots, identical markings or significant patterns of markings, or discrepancies between the total ballots bundled and the total votes recorded on the results form.

If clear and convincing evidence of fraud is found for a particular polling station, all the results from that station will be invalidated. The ECC will then calculate a percentage of fraud for each of the six categories based on the results of the sample audit. These percentages will then be multiplied by the remaining votes not included in the 358 ballot box sample for each candidate in the respective categories. So, for example, if the ECC invalidates 55% of ballots from category A1 of the sample, it will then invalidate 55% of the ballots in that category for each candidate from the polling stations that were not sampled.

There are a number of methodological problems with this approach, but it was chosen to allow the IEC and ECC to conduct the audit relatively quickly. Once the audit process is complete and the new vote totals have been calculated, a final certified result will be announced. It’s important to understand that other ECC investigations are still ongoing and it’s unclear what effect these investigations will have on the outcome.

At this stage, it is still unclear whether a runoff election will be necessary. If the audit process produces a final certified result in which President Karzai has won less than fifty percent of the ballots being counted, a runoff should occur. The audit process is likely to be completed within the next few days and a final certified result could be announced as early as 15 October.


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