Fraud and Press Censorship Taint Afghan Vote

Posted: August 20, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

The election is on in Afghanistan, which means vote fraud and media censorship are the name of the game today.

IPS News Analyst Gareth Porter yesterday published a story that detailed a massive vote fraud campaign intended to re-elect Hamid Karzai. According to Porter, Karzai’s vote fraud scheme includes:

  • Alliances with warlords, who will deliver votes from their territories for Karzai by hook or by crook. Some have already made threats of reprisal against village elders if they did not cooperate with the vote fraud schemes.
  • Massive registration of underage voters (up to 20 percent of the rolls)
  • Rampant (as in 85-percent occurrence) issuance of multiple voting cards to single individuals, including one case where one person was given about 500 voting cards.
  • Issuance of voting cards to people before they registered.
  • Issuance of cards to women without their physical presence based on lists provided by family (in some provinces this practice was used in 90-99 percent of registration stations).
  • Allowing men to take registration books home for the ostensible purpose of obtaining their women-folk’s fingerprints for registration. This practice, combined with the list practice mentioned above, led to outrageously fraudulent numbers of “women” being issued cards–between double and thirty percent more than the number of cards issued to men. Female Members of Parliament in Afghanistan have called these numbers not credible.
  • Purchase of voting cards from locals by warlord vote organizers.
  • Manufacture and sale of many thousands of fake registration cards.

Oh, by the way…the government body in charge of gathering evidence of vote fraud is comprised of seven members, all appointed by Karzai and led by a chairman who’s a flat-out Karzai partisan.

The Afghan government also barred reporting on violence during today’s election, threatening foreign reporters with expulsion if they break the ban.

Keep all this in mind when the U.S. and Afghan governments break out the Purple Fingers spin.

Ann Jones put together a great piece for The Nation [h/t Tom] that sums up the mess we’ve made for ourselves in relation to this election:

All this–and much more chicanery–leaves the United States in a no-win situation of its own making. We got into it in 2004 by overestimating our ability to put one over on Afghans and Americans alike. And by underestimating Afghans: we expected voter fraud and we ignored it. Even when the percentage of women voters surpassed an inconceivable 70 percent of the total voter registration (in provinces where women are scarcely allowed out of the house), some internationals welcomed the trend. More blatant fraud this time around, and more conspicuous deals, are proof of Afghans’ aptitude for the game we taught them to call “democracy.”

…To ignore history is never a good idea. Remember when US policy embraced Islamic fundamentalists as our natural allies (as a Christian nation) against godless communism? And where are they now?

…It’s too bad about Afghans though. Given half a chance, they’d vote for change and peace and reconciliation and no more soldiers.

And here’s former Afghan MP Malalai Joya:

We Afghans know this election will change nothing. It is merely a show of democracy put on by and for the West, to legitimize its future puppet in Afghanistan.

FYI, if you’re looking for a way to get crowd-sourced news from Afghanistan on today’s election, check out Alive in Afghanistan.

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Comments
  1. sporkmaster says:

    But I was reading that and the concern that the press’s coverage of the violence would deter those from voting. Also that the photos would encourage more violence.

    Also remember when we talked about the media and getting the right info? Here is a line that caught my eye.

    Meanwhile, a separate statement from the Interior Ministry said journalists should stay away from the scene of any attacks until investigators have a chance to collect evidence.

    Also just below was a police officer yelling at the reporters for trying to take photos of the bomb attack.

    One officer yelled, “Your pictures help the enemy! Why are you helping them?” at an AP reporter as he shoved him back.

    I mean it is true, those that attack Coalition force along with Iraqi and Afghanistan troops video tape them to show that they can pull the attacks off. So by showing the effects of the bombings they are getting free publicity that service two purpose. One is that it service as a recruitment too to show those that this group can successfully make attacks. Second is to intimidate the populations so they stay quiet and isolated making any attempt at resist, regardless of violent or not almost impossible.

    lastly is that they are trying to take photos and videos of ground zero. We do not allow the press to get that close over here because we have find the families of those that died or hurt. Also how easy would it be for a forward observer posing as a press person radio mortar attacks? It is a real thought because in IED attacks they often put another bomb to try to take out anyone that is coming to the aid of those that got hurt.

    Now as far as corruption goes yes there will be a problem there, but right now the main concern is to stop the violence first before any other reforms can be done. It is why the idea of a smoking ban in Iraq is such a joke with all of their other issues.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090819/ap_on_re_as/as_afghan_election_broadcasting_ban

  2. dcrowe says:

    Hey Sporkmaster:

    The point of the above post’s note about press censorship was aimed more at folks who might be surprised by lower violence than expected. It was a warning to take the reports with a grain of salt since a press blackout on those stories had been ordered. I understand what you’re saying, but the blackout also has a flipside: it prevents people from knowing just how dangerous it might be to go vote. In a sense, it’s tricking them into risking their lives without having information that might weigh on their decision.

    Re: stopping the violence…I think folks have to understand that the corruption is not a side issue compared to violence, but a very potent driver of the violence. I mean, we basically say as much in the counterinsurgency manual when we say a legitimate host nation government is required for counterinsurgency success. That’s just another way of saying that people will shoot at the government until they find it legitimate. These warlords will a) themselves use the Afghan state apparatus for violence and b) provoke violence from groups hostile to them and to their behavior. So I think the violence question and the legitimacy question are in many ways the same problem.

    • sporkmaster says:

      That is a good point to make, but I think that this is a case of time and place. Also I agree that anything from these areas with a grain of salt. (Kind of surprised why I just don’t keep salt shaker near the computer)

      But with the violence it is dangerous just going to the market much less anything else. I think there is a real fine line between leaving people in the dark against putting too much information out. I really do not have a answer for that.

      It not that the corruption is not important, but I think that the really way of dealing that is removing them. But a few things that would mean. The first one more soldiers that would replace the ones being provided by the war lords. That is why they are being used in the first place; it allows us to use fewer troops. That is why that I think that we could pull off dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time. (Dumb idea) The second was if we try to remove them that we may have another incident in Somalia in 1993.

      But if we leave, we are removing those that would be following the rules, leaving those that are doing these crime go totally unchecked. It is getting late and I have to be up early so I will have to stop at this point.

  3. […] Fraud and Press Censorship Taint Afghan Vote posted on August 31st, 2009 at Return Good for Evil […]

  4. […] So here’s a question for those who are pushing COIN who haven’t totally abandoned their own doctrine’s prerequisites for success (and believe me, those are few and far between these days): what systemic changes have or will be made prior to November 7 that will prevent a replay of the August fiasco? While replacing bad apples is essential, it won’t prevent rot if the barrel itself if corrupted. Recall that during the last round of voting, fraud schemes included: […]

  5. […] So here’s a question for those who are pushing COIN who haven’t totally abandoned their own doctrine’s prerequisites for success (and believe me, those are few and far between these days): what systemic changes have or will be made prior to November 7 that will prevent a replay of the August fiasco? While replacing bad apples is essential, it won’t prevent rot if the barrel itself is corrupted. Recall that during the last round of voting, fraud schemes included: […]

  6. […] So here’s a question for those who are pushing COIN who haven’t totally abandoned their own doctrine’s prerequisites for success (and believe me, those are few and far between these days): what systemic changes have or will be made prior to November 7 that will prevent a replay of the August fiasco? While replacing bad apples is essential, it won’t prevent rot if the barrel itself is corrupted. Recall that during the last round of voting, fraud schemes included: […]

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