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A Day of 'Self-Determination' for Afghan Women Voters

Women are voting and running for office for the first time ever in Afghanistan as the country chooses local councils and a national parliament. Afghan President Hamid Karzai cast his ballot early Sunday calling the election "a day of self-determination for the Afghan people." VOA correspondent Patricia Nunan visited some of the balloting sites and filed this report from a school in Puli Alam.

I come to Puli Alam, the capital of Logar Province about 65-kilometers south of Kabul. The main polling station here is set up in a school, which like most has different sections - half are for men voters, the other half for women voters.

The women arrived here by a different gate and are fully dressed - fully covered up in burkhas - which they remove as soon as they get into the classrooms where the ballot boxes are setup.

The election staff here says that by their count - an informal count - the male voters outnumber the female voters by about three to one. But the women are not really that concerned. Among the election staff, they just say it is harder for women to get out of the house and off to the polling stations.