Analyzing the 2005 Vote Spread

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Narrow Margins Separate Winners and Also-Rans
By Greg Minjack

KABUL, Sept 17 - The single non-transferable vote (SNTV) system used in Afghanistan's elections can produce a wide range of vote spreads, the difference of votes earned between the candidates winning seats.  

In the 2005 election for Afghanistan's lower house of parliament, the Wolesi Jirga, some of the vote spreads were very wide, such as in Kabul, where the difference between the top vote earner and the lowest successful candidate was 50,646 votes.  

In many mid-sized and small provinces, however, the vote spread in 2005 was very narrow.  In Nimroz Province, 511 votes separated the winner of the only non-reserved female seat from the unsuccessful runner-up.  Even in the larger Kunar province, with an estimated population of 415,000, 1,888 votes separated the first place finisher and the winner of the last non-reserved female seat.

In addition to the narrow spreads between the successful candidates, the spread between successful candidates and the unsuccessful runners-up can also be very narrow.  Although the spread between the successful candidates in Kabul Province was very wide, or 50,646 votes, the difference between the last successful candidate and the unsuccessful runner-up was a mere 26 votes.
Due to the fact that so few votes can mean the difference between winning seats in the Wolesi Jirga and being a close also-ran, the selection and execution of campaign tactics by candidates and their supporters will largely determine success or failure.  

It is amongst these narrow margins that the use of small-scale, or “retail” voter fraud could have significant impact on the results of this election.  Thus, the concern about excessive over-registration, multiple voting, proxy voting, or the use of counterfeit voter registration cards must be taken seriously.

The DI Team will be examining the provincial returns to compare them against the ranges and margins established in the 2005 election, identify significant change amongst key electoral indicators, and evaluate likely causes.  These will include, but not be limited to:

  • High to Low Vote Spreads of Successful Candidates;
  • Vote Spreads Between Successful and Unsuccessful Candidates;
  • Incumbent Seat Retention Rates & Challenger Success Rates;
  • Change in Votes Cast, both Valid and Invalid;
  • Number of Female Candidates Amongst Non-Reserved Seat Vote Ranges; and
  • Change in Vote Performance of Female Candidates.

Democracy International staff, informed by the reports of our long-, and short-term observers, will look to these and other key indices when preparing our analysis and final evaluation of the 2010 Parliamentary Election.


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