Afghan Election Process Enters Critical Stage

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Effectiveness of results tabulation and complaints adjudication processes will determine the ultimate success of Afghanistan’s parliamentary election process

Kabul, Sept 26 – U.S. based Democracy International, which deployed 80 international observers to this month’s parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, said on Sunday it was still too early to measure the effect of fraud but called on the country’s electoral institutions to stay committed to transparently resolving irregularities and tabulating results.

On September 18, amidst an environment of widespread insecurity, millions of Afghans throughout the country’s 34 provinces successfully cast ballots in critical elections to the Wolesi Jirga, or lower house of parliament. The first Afghan-led parliamentary elections in the post-Taliban era were held against a backdrop of the widespread irregularities which plagued the 2009 election process. Since then, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) has made great progress in strengthening the administration of elections. Preparations for election day far outpaced the 2009 effort and election day operations were considerably better than last year.

“Despite the many challenges which remain, it’s clear that Afghanistan has made progress in improving upon the process we witnessed in 2009,” said Glenn Cowan, Head of Mission for Democracy International’s (DI) international election observation mission in Afghanistan. “What remains to be seen is how successful the electoral institutions will be in this critical post-election period”.

The most critical stage of the electoral process is now taking place in the results tabulation and complaints adjudication processes. At the National Tally Center in Kabul, IEC staff has begun processing tamper evident bags which contain results forms from Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. Thousands of complaints are being accepted and processed at Provincial Election Complaints Commissions around the country. The ultimate success of the election process will depend on the legitimate outcomes of these critical processes. Only after this work is complete can a reasonable judgment be cast on this election process.

“The number of complaints in itself is not a measure of fraud,” said Cowan. “Filing complaints is another way candidates and voters can participate in this process. What is ultimately important is how successful the IEC and ECC are in correcting for irregularities.”

In order to ensure the success of this electoral process, Democracy International calls upon both the Independent Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission to remain committed to transparent and efficient results tabulation and complaints adjudication processes. The international community, including domestic and international observer organizations, must continue to observe the electoral process and provide the political space necessary for the process to continue as it has been designed. Candidates, political parties, and their agents should remain constructively engaged through the formal avenues for participation at their disposal, including the filing of formal complaints and the avenues available for official observation of the process.


As of September 26, the IEC National Tally Center in Kabul has received more than 5,000 tamper evident bags (TEBs) containing results forms. Approximately 700 of these TEBs were identified as potentially problematic and were assigned to the clearance section where they will be examined prior to being submitted to the data entry process. 500 of these TEBs have since been cleared for data entry. The IEC has now released partial results for 12 provinces. As a result of the intake and tallying process, the IEC has invalidated results from specific polling stations in 7 provinces.

The IEC is currently reporting that 4,332,371 ballots were cast on election day. This number was calculated by turnout reports phoned in to IEC headquarters in Kabul by district field coordinators throughout Afghanistan. This is the first tabulation of ballots cast and is likely to change as the IEC and ECC correct for irregularities throughout the post-election process.

The ECC has thus far received 3,460 complaints at both Provincial Electoral Complaints Commissions and ECC headquarters in Kabul. When a complaint is received it is sorted according to the seriousness of the allegation. To date, 57 percent of the complaints sorted have been identified as category A complaints, which means if they are ruled in favor of the complainant they could affect the outcome of a particular election. More complaints have been filed in Kabul (320), Nangahar (265), Herat (260), Laghman (222), and Khost (206) than in any other provinces. The fewest complaints have been filed in Panjshir (11), Sar-e-Pul (12) and Farah (13).


On election day, Democracy International deployed 80 international election observers to 14 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. DI observed and reported on all aspects of the pre-election period and election day. The DI election observation mission continues to observe the post-election process with a team of election experts and statistical analysts based in Kabul. At the conclusion of the election process, Democracy International will issue its final report. For in depth coverage on the DI international election observation mission, visit


U.S.-based Democracy International provides technical assistance and analytical services and implements projects worldwide for democracy and governance programs for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other development partners. Since its founding in 2003, DI has worked in more than 40 countries. DI organized and led observation mission to elections in Pakistan in February 2008 and Afghanistan in August 2009, and has also carried out election-related projects in Albania, Djibouti, Ecuador, Ghana, Indonesia, Liberia and Sudan. For updated information on Democracy International visit


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