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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora