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

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    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.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora