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.