News / Asia

Three Questions: Rating Afghanistan's Elections


Official results from Afghanistan's parliamentary vote are not expected for several weeks, but election observers are already weighing-in on whether Saturday's balloting was an improvement over last year's controversial presidential election.

On Monday, the Washington-based National Democratic Institute said violence marred the election, but millions of Afghans demonstrated "courage and resolve" in heading to the polls and casting their votes. The group said it is still too early to fully evaluate the quality of the election, but observers did find that many problems, some dating back to the country's 2004 elections, still have not been addressed. These include the need for better security for polling stations, steps to ensure Afghan election monitors' independence and fairness, and more prosecutions of election-related crimes.

Scott Worden is a senior election observer in Kabul with the National Democratic Institute. Worden also monitored the presidential elections last year as one of three foreign members of the Electoral Complaints Comission. VOA spoke with him on Monday.

Can you give us an overall sense of whether or not the elections went well?

Scott Wordon: "It really is a mixed picture, bearing in mind that the picture is not particularly clear at this point. But there definitely were some improvements over the process last time. A lot of that is in the preparations for the election and the IEC [Independent Election Commission] under new leadership has replaced a lot of the polling staff that were involved with suspicious or fraudulent results last year. There's been additional anti-fraud measures and policies that they've implemented that I think should make it a lot easier to detect fraud and irregularities as they go through the count. And I think the other important distinction from last year is that it was much more clear, about a month before the election, where they were going to close polling stations because of poor security. And this is important because last year we found that there's a strong connection and correlation between areas where there was poor security and, therefore, no observers and those areas where there is significant levels of fraud."

Describe what you witnessed on election day at polling stations.


Scott Wordon: "I, with others from the NDI observation mission, went to about 10 different polling stations around Kabul. Not surprisingly security was good there. There was a lot of participation that was very encouraging. There were a lot of observers and candidate agents that were in the polls, scrutinizing. And we also noticed that there was a lot of youth involvement, both as polling workers and as agents and participants in the process. And I think this is a great sign that the young people are getting involved in the democratic process here and hopefully will be pushing a reform agenda going forward. So all those, I think, are positive signs and improvements over last year."

Before the vote was even carried out over the weekend, there were predictions from a wide range of people who said there were going to be serious problems. But will the election be good enough so that the Afghan public will accept the results?

Scott Wordon: "Well, I think that is where it's really too early to tell because a lot of the evidence of whether or not there are patterns where it shows there's bias towards one particular ethnicity or not, or one particular tribe within a province, is going to be revealed only when the preliminary results are announced. Now, votes were counted at the polling station level so, the count has been completed now in its entirety, and there were observers and agents that were in polling stations observing this and recording what the vote totals were. I think that there is a lot of discussion in the news media here in Afghanistan about alleged irregularities, about polling stations being closed early and maybe ballot stuffing occurred… But I think that really people won't draw a conclusion until they see how the vote is actually distributed. And then once that happens, then you'll hear your kind of first verdict on whether or not the people think this vote was fair."

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs