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Voter Fraud or Self-Preservation Step?

Alive In Afghanistan’s @BaghdadBrian passes along this video of a guy in Kabul showing “how you can erase the ‘indelible ink’ from your thumb, obtain a counterfeit voter card, and vote again as many times as you like.”

To have an uncomfortable conversation, the dilemma here is compounded by the Taliban’s threats against voters. Vote fraud is vote fraud. But couldn’t it be the case that washing off the ink is a self-preservation step? NATO’s plan to protect voters from reprisal consist of calling the Afghans a “resilient” people, after all.

I asked Brian about whether washing off the ink was self-preservation and he replied, “Could be, but ppl have been very clear in some areas they are going to vote again.” There’s no reason to doubt him. AiA is proving to be a valuable aggregation tool. And the checks on fraud appear minimal in any case. Carlotta Gall reports in The New York Times:

… Ahmad Nader Nadery, head of the largest independent Afghan monitor mission, the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, acknowledged concerns that there would be no monitors in some of the most insecure districts where intimidation and fraud were most likely to occur. Instead, candidates’ representatives were the only check on fraud in those areas.

Similarly, blogger Gregg Carlstrom at The Majlis reads through the Pajhwok news agency’s frequent reports from around the country on the election and tallies the proportion of voters unable to make it to the polls because of security fears — as high as a 25 to 50 percent inaccessibility rate in some provinces. “I’m wondering how the U.S. will ever spin this as a free or fair election,” he writes. There’s a reason no one speaks about “free and fair” elections here, and Gregg is pointing to it. The issue is legitimacy, and whether Afghans will grant it to the winner.

[Update: Many, many apologies for Gregg Carlstrom for initially making a pronoun-reference to him gender-neutral. I didn't initially see his byline at The Majlis, and so I wrote this post as gender-neutral, editing after I saw his name. I missed one reference. Apologies.]

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