Audit of Afghan Votes Resumes Following Stoppage

A rigorous audit of all votes cast in Afghanistan’s recent presidential elections has resumed following a 48 hour suspension due to irregularities in certain Afghan electoral organizations and a disagreement in certain technical aspects of the audit. The differences have at least ostensibly been resolved, and the nearly 200 teams of auditors have resumed their efforts to go through approximately 23,000 ballot boxes in order to rule out voter fraud and, if necessary, dispense of fraudulent or illegally cast votes. The election process has already taken longer than any election held in 2014, and with the audit expected to last another two to three weeks, the ultimate duration of the elections, even if the audit is successful and both candidates agree to the results, is uncertain.

Afghan officials, including leading civil society figures, appear to be anxious to see a new president into office, due to a long-standing dissatisfaction with the incumbent President Hamid Karzai. Ashraf Ghani, Karzai’s favorite in the election, and a proponent of a more centrist style of government, led by nearly 14% in the election run-off, a dramatic rise after trailing Abdullah Abdullah by nearly 12% in the first round of elections. Due to a lack of consensus in all voting procedures, both candidates have agreed to resume the audit due to a lack of desire to prolong the process, and have petitioned the United Nations for assistance during the election process, as the credibility of Afghanistan’s electoral body, The Independent Election Commission, was shaken following the resignation of Ziaul Haq Amarkhel, former chief election official and target of fraud accusations by Abdullah. So far, only 1,027 ballot boxes have been inspected.

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