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Afghanistan’s 2019 Election (13/14): Observations from Kandahar, Takhar, Wardak and Balkh

Afghanistan's 2019 Election (13/14): Observations from Kandahar, Takhar, Wardak and Balkh

With intermittent preventing and rocket assaults all through the day, election staff in the Awal Baba faculty voting centre in Maidan Shahr, had little work to do. Photograph: Andrew Quilty, 2019.

Observations from the provinces show an election that, normally, saw much less violence than anticipated, though some provinces have been still very violent. Despite this, turnout was low, even in the relatively protected provincial capitals. Issues with the biometric verification course of additionally meant that some voters who have been registered have been sent away. In this dispatch, AAN observers present detailed findings from four provinces.  Fazl Muzhary reviews from Kandahar, Obaid Ali from Takhar, Andrew Quilty from Wardak and Rohullah Sorush from Balkh, compiled by Martine van Bijlert and Kate Clark. Separate AAN reviews are forthcoming about how the elections went in Herat, Zabul, Bamyan and Daikundi.

The monitoring of Afghanistan’s vote by election observers has two major purposes: to verify whether correct procedures are adopted and to notice and flag any problems which will arise. Additionally they doc their observations, as an example when it comes to turnout and vote rely, in order that this may be checked towards the info that the Unbiased Election Commission (IEC) releases later.

The presence of observers is usually seen as a deterrent towards fraud. Nevertheless, on-the-ground observers not often have a full overview of the complete extent of any problems on election day, just because the locations where they are current are often not where fraud occurs. Observers are likely to congregate in city areas and in polling centres which might be relatively safe and accessible. This must be stored in thoughts when studying the 4 provincial statement studies. Even so, they provide key clues as to what the doubtless themes and controversies might be within the coming weeks.

All four remark stories describe election day as it happened within the respective provincial capitals. In Kandahar metropolis, security was a lot better than anticipated (though there were a number of safety incidents). Turnout, nevertheless, was nonetheless low – in accordance with all interlocutors, it was considerably decrease than the 2018 parliamentary election. Taloqan city in Takhar had faced a week-long energy outage and the shut-down of telecommunication and internet networks on election day, which hampered communications and reporting for all involved. This was also the case in Herat and Zabul. Turnout in Taloqan was once more noticed as low. In Wardak, even in Maidan Shahr, polling seems to have been closely affected by Taleban assaults, a lot in order that even the comparatively low turnout reported by the IEC seems to be like it might be inflated. In Balkh, lastly, Mazar-e Sharif was safe, however turnout reported to be extremely low in comparison with the parliamentary election.

The noticed low turnout, even in provincial capitals that have been relatively protected, was across the board. It was blamed on worry of the Taleban making good on their threats of violence and on disappointment with the government particularly and the electoral course of basically. In most provinces, there had also been a noticeable lack of campaigning and accompanying native political jockeying. This was notably noticeable in Kandahar. In Herat – as might be reported on separately – native figures of affect solely came out on the last minute out in favour of their favoured presidential candidates. Another issue might have been the absence of organised transport, which in different presidential elections was typically offered by campaign groups or local candidates who have been operating for the simultaneous parliamentary or provincial council election.

All over the place the place individuals did come out to vote, observers noted some problems with the Biometric Voter Verification (BVV) process, ensuing in the sending away of some voters who had registered but whose names couldn’t be discovered on the lists or whose QR code was not accepted. The IEC’s determination in the midst of the day to permit individuals to vote without BVV in these instances signifies that there at the moment are, once more, several categories of votes. There’s already confusion and disagreement over whether they are going to be tallied as legitimate votes or not.

Of all of the 4 provinces noticed, Kandahar appears the almost definitely candidate for nearer scrutiny. As a populated province, it brings in numerous potential votes and the turnout determine as launched by the IEC seems inflated, in comparison with what was noticed. (1)

Separate AAN stories are forthcoming about how the elections went in Herat, Zabul, Bamyan and Daikundi.

1. Kandahar election day statement

AAN visited six polling centres in Kandahar metropolis on election day. Through the visits, AAN researcher Fazal Muzhary spoke to voters, senior government officials, IEC staff, civil society activists, candidates agents and native journalists, including reporters who went to varied districts on election day. AAN also checked the variety of votes forged in the above-mentioned centres at noon and in two of them at the finish of the day, and attended a post-election press convention by senior government officers.

Kandahar: safety

General, security on election day, each in the metropolis and within the districts, was a lot better than virtually everybody we spoke to had anticipated, whether or not they have been regular voters, journalists, senior authorities officers, tribal elders, civil society activists or observers. There was one major bomb blast in Police District 1 in the Shah Bazaar area at round eight:15 am. Sixteen individuals have been wounded: one member of the safety forces and 15 civilians. In response to IEC director Emal Abdullah, the polling centre in that space was closed for one hour, after which it reopened.

There have been several different explosions which brought about no casualties: within the early morning in Police District 12 in the Graveyard Space, not near or at a polling centre; 10:00 am in PoliceDistrict 2, once more not close to or at a polling centre; close to Zainab Highschool in Police District 2; close to the instructor training centre in Police District 4; and close to Sardar Painda Muhammad Faculty in Dand district. The deputy provincial police chief stated ‘the enemy’ had planned an extra 48 explosions, however these explosives had been defused beforehand because of police operations.

Rocket shelling, preventing between the Taleban and security forces, and bomb blasts have been reported in 4 districts, safety officials advised AAN. In Daman district, which is situated to the south of Kandahar, a bomb was detonated near Tarnak bridge, wounding three Afghan National Police (ANP) within the evening of 28 September. Spokesman for Kandahar police headquarters Jamal Nasar Barakzai advised AAN the blast passed off after the ANP had brought ballot packing containers to Kandahar city and have been on their means again to the district. In Maiwand district, preventing was reported between Taleban and ANP within the Mushak area, starting around 11:00 am and ending around 1:00 pm; based on a source in the Afghan safety forces, the preventing resulted in no casualties. Within the Shatur area of Arghandab district, a roadside bomb went off at 10:30 am on election day, wounding an Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier. Within the Wayand area of Shah Wali Kot district, the Taleban attacked an ANP publish near a polling centre; in preventing which lasted one hour, there were again no casualties to either aspect. Lastly, there was also preventing between Taleban and ANP close to Baba Sahib police publish at 7:00 am in the identical district. Sources within the safety sector advised AAN that seven Taleban fighters have been killed and one other 4 wounded. AAN couldn’t affirm the fatalities independently.

Provided that the Taleban have some backing inside Kandahar metropolis and within the province, the comparatively low number of incidents might have been as a result of a choice to not injury that help by finishing up major assaults towards voters or polling centres. In response to one senior journalist in Kandahar, who has been following the Taleban and the security state of affairs since 2002, the Taleban had only needed to put psychological strain on the citizens. He stated that he had witnessed comparable techniques from the Taleban in all previous elections. In any case, the very menace of violence already seems to have worked in helping to dampen turnout (see under).

Kandahar: turnout

Turnout was fairly low on the day of the election, certainly lower than anticipated. It was expected that at the least the individuals in Kandahar city, notably within the comparatively protected areas of Aino Mena within the Chowni area, Topkhana and Police District 2 would come out to vote in considerable numbers as a result of that they had completed so within the 2018 parliamentary and 2014 presidential elections. The expectation was for hundreds of voters, quite than a whole lot. In the gated group of Aino Mena, AAN visited 34 polling stations, in two polling centres. In response to the IEC database which was checked at 5:00 pm, only about 350 ladies and about 1,500 men out of the 12,982 voters registered at these centres forged their votes. Equally, by three:40 pm at Aino 2 Excessive Faculty in the Chowni space, where AAN visited 21 polling stations, in two polling centres, simply 150 ladies and 650 males out of 6,796 registered voters had shown upto vote. At Zarghuna Ana Excessive Faculty, where AAN visited 20 polling stations, in two polling centres, at four:30 pm, 121 ladies and 647 males, out of 7,758 complete voters had then forged their votes.

Individuals gave totally different causes for the low turnout. One was the shortage of voter mobilisation by influential Kandaharis. An area analyst who works with a world NGO advised AAN, “The Kandahari elites have been silent both earlier than and through the election about who they might vote for.” Haji Agha Lalai Dastagiri, the deputy governor of Kandahar, stated that the influential Karzai household had not come out in favour of any specific candidate and stated as an alternative that their priority was peace not elections. Sadiq Rishtinai, local reporter of Azadi Radio pointed out that out of the local influential figures, solely the top of the provincial council, Sayed Jan Khakrezwal, had appeared in public after casting his vote. Other notables, similar to former and current parliamentarians, members of the provincial council and tribal elders didn’t present up to publicly vote on election day, and had not made public statements about their voting. In Kabul and in different cities, public figures shared their photographs on social media as quickly as they forged their vote, however in Kandahar this was not executed.

One more reason given for the low turnout was the fearful surroundings. Though the Taleban solely carried out one major attack in Kandahar city, their threats successfully intimidated many voters from going out to vote. One female IEC employee advised AAN her mother and father had counselled her to stay at house, fearing bomb blasts or rocketing: “My mom advised me to remain residence as an alternative of going to the polling centre. But I informed her that there can be no blasts or safety incidents and went anyway.” Though, this feminine IEC employee did go to work, her mother did not go out to vote. Equally, a taxi driver, Nazir, stated he had needed to vote in the Aino Mena poling centre, but he returned residence halfway. “Once I acquired near the centre, I acquired a call from my brother, telling me not to go there, as a result of there could be a bomb blast.”

A third purpose cited for the low turnout is a loss of trust amongst voters over elections typically. Civil society activist Hekmatullah Sulhi thinks the 2014 election performed a more vital position in this regard than the 2018 parliamentary election. He stated a majority of Kandahar residents believed their votes have been utterly ineffective. “Individuals say they forged their votes for Ghani in 2014, after which there was want for mediation by the US overseas secretary,” Sulhi stated, referring to the creation of the Nation Unity Authorities after the US Secretary of State’s John Kerry’s intervention through the protracted 2014 dispute over the election’s second round outcomes.

Kandahar: the voting

Through the vote, there have been issues with late openings and with the info base. Of all of the 71 stations that AAN visited, none had opened on time. Voters and observers informed AAN that they had opened between 30 and 60 minutes late, ie between 7:30 and eight:00 am, and voters complained concerning the time that they had wasted. With reference to the time it took to forged a vote, this was a relatively lengthy process. AAN observed 4 voters at one polling centre, from the time they arrived on the polling centre gate till after that they had forged their vote and left. Two of the voters spent 15 minutes, one individual 12 minutes and the opposite 10 minutes casting their vote from start to end. However since there have been no crowds, there have been additionally no complaints concerning the period.

An essential drawback that arose was the mismatch between the voter lists and the database. There have been many voters who confirmed up at polling centres, but found their names were not within the database. For instance, on the polling centre in Aino Mena, around 40 individuals could not forged their votes. These voters advised AAN that they had registered at this similar centre, and their names have been on the voter listing, but not on the BVV record. They have been informed they might not forged their votes. This was before the IEC ruling that folks ought to be allowed to vote; it is unknown whether any of them returned later or to what extent this later ruling was carried out.

Kandahar: security of the vote

The top of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), Ashnagul Bandawal, informed AAN on 1 October that that they had acquired 130 complaints. He stated ECC staff have been still categorising all of the complaints, but most have been technical: individuals complaining that BVV units did not work, that their names were not within the database or that their names have been found at another polling centre than where they registered. He additionally stated further complaints had been registered by representatives of the candidates in Kabul, so the number of complaints referring to Kandahar might still rise.

IEC officials stated, both on election day and on 1 October, that thus far no main fraudulent instances had been seen or reported on election day. This was also the view of civil society activists and journalists, although they added that there may be as yet undetected fraud, including fraud that had taken place before election day or that may be tried after, and fraud that had taken place within the districts. They counselled that the latter can be troublesome to detect, given the insecurity that makes these areas troublesome to entry for government and IEC officers, as well as observers and the media. In response to civil society activist Sulhi, the districts which can need probably the most cautious watching are those which are so troublesome to access that each one electoral materials had to be transported by helicopter. Because the government has no management over a lot of the areas beyond the district headquarters, he believed, turnout can be negligible with solely authorities officers casting their votes. He stated that if any poll packing containers from these areas have been discovered to have numerous votes when shifted to Kandahar city, it might imply a lot of the votes have been fraudulent.

Although the entire turnout for Kandahar metropolis’s polling centres has not yet been announced, observers and journalists estimated that at most, round 20,000 individuals had voted within the provincial capital. They based mostly their estimate on what that they had seen within the 2018 parliamentary ballot when, in response to Azadi Radio reporter Sadiq Rishtinai, an estimated 25,000 individuals had voted (although in response to the IEC’s official figures in 2018 the overall turnout within the city was 42,558). The 20,000 figure was additionally reflected in the partial turnout figures IEC officials in Kabul launched on the evening of Election Day (see AAN’s previous dispatch right here): 25,153 from 43 centres, assuming that these involved the reported knowledge from the town and perhaps some nearby areas, reminiscent of Dand (the full number of planned polling centres for Kandahar metropolis was 34).

Two civil society activists and an area journalist, none of whom needed to be named, stated they feared insecurity within the province would offer a chance for the number of votes to be inflated and that the announced turnout can be greater than what might be expected from the insecure districts. The activists stated that, since government presence was restricted solely to these districts’ headquarters, observers had also not been capable of observe the turnout, the voting and the counting. They feared both pre and post-election poll stuffing.

An agent for the Abdullah workforce from Spin Boldak advised AAN “All the ballot bins have been underneath the entire control of the district governor and the district police chief. Subsequently, it was exhausting for observers to see whether or not the officers did ballot stuffing or not.” (For reporting on systematic fraud in Kandahar, and notably Spin Boldak, in the course of the 2009 presidential election, see this previous AAN reporting.

Kandahar: reported turnout

In response to the newest IEC figures, 167 of Kandahar’s 174 deliberate polling centres, and 1,567 of Kandahar’s deliberate polling stations, have been open on election day. Seven centres, with a complete of 17 polling centres, have been reported closed. Kandahar, in accordance with the newest IEC figures, reported a total of just about 194,000 votes.

Turnout in Kandahar in the 2018 parliamentary election stood at round 30 per cent The newest IEC figures put turnout on this election slightly larger (round 35 per cent), which appears unlikely, based mostly on election day remark in Kandahar city, the lacklustre campaign and relative lack of political jockeying forward of the election, as well as the observed reluctance of individuals to return out to vote in the face of Taleban threats. As indicated by observers on the ground, the outcomes and voting patterns within the more remote districts will need, particularly, to be intently scrutinised.

2. Takhar/Taloqan election day statement

AAN visited ten polling centres in Taloqan metropolis, capital of Takhar province, on election day and spoke to IEC officials, observers, journalists, a variety of presidential candidate agents and voters.

Polling station in Sayed Abdullah Boys high school in Taloqan, Takhar on election day. Photograph: Obaid Ali, 2019

Takhar: No power, internet or telephone connection  

On 23 September, electricity pylons that transmit energy from Tajikistan to Takhar province have been destroyed during clashes between the Afghan forces and Taleban in Kunduz province. Takhar province was with out electrical energy for nearly every week before the presidential election. Some government institutions have been utilizing turbines throughout official working hours. In the course of the nights, city restaurants and stores that had turbines have been full of individuals watching television programmes or the information and charging their cell phones.

On 26 September, Taleban’s spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid despatched messages to journalists saying that they had warned telecommunication corporations in the north to modify off their networks. He stated if the instruction was ignored, telecommunication towers can be destroyed. He additionally advised AAN by message that this instruction is perhaps enforced all around the country.

Mobile phone networks and internet connections have been largely out of service from 27 September till 2 October. This prompted critical issues not just for the IEC making an attempt to speak with employees within the subject, but in addition for government establishments and local individuals. Because of this, it has been troublesome to report on the election in Takhar’s 16 districts, or even different elements of the town the writer did not go to. To satisfy native officials, presidential campaigners, local journalists and civil society staff, one needed to discover their workplaces or their houses and knock on the door to see if anybody was out there to talk.

Takhar: safety  

Throughout election day, direct attacks towards a couple of polling centres within the northwest of Taloqan metropolis disrupted voting. IEC staff and locals advised AAN about these attacks whereas we met in a polling centre in the metropolis. They stated that, in the late morning of election day, two rockets shot from unknown areas targeted a polling centre near Takhar University. No casualties have been reported, however it disrupted voting in a close-by polling centre. IEC staff, chatting with AAN on election day, stated they thought that due to the Taleban’s rocket assaults, a lot of the voters would like to keep away from polling centres.

The security forces had arrange no seen examine posts or safety belts in Taloqan metropolis or around the metropolis, as had been observed in the course of the 2014 and 2018 elections. For the protection of the polling centres, NDS and nationwide police have been assigned in each polling centre. AAN tried to satisfy security officers, but was unable to contact them for additional info.

There were also critical clashes reported in some districts in the northern elements of Takhar province.

Takhar: turnout 

Turnout in Taloqan, in comparison with earlier elections, appeared very low. AAN’s observer visited ten polling centres inside the town and in all of them only a restricted number of individuals had come to vote. For example, in Abu Usman Boys Excessive Faculty, with three,419 registered voters (see IEC voter registration knowledge right here) and ten polling stations, the number of voters by mid-day had only reached 750. In Al-Faroq Boys Excessive Faculty at late morning, the top of the polling centre stated that out of a total of two,348 registered voters, solely 537 individuals had forged their votes. In Khatayan Boys Faculty, only 308 voters out of a complete of 1,601 registered voters had forged their votes by late morning. By late afternoon, when AAN visited polling centres again to see if the variety of voters had increased, the polling centres have been empty. IEC staff in one in every of these polling centres informed AAN that they have been uninterested in sitting around and enjoying video games on their cell phones. “We are here to work,” they stated. “But if individuals don’t come to vote, it isn’t our drawback. It’s their selection.” The IEC staff in these polling centres did not present additional particulars concerning the number of voters that had come. As an alternative, they stated the whole figures can be launched after the rely, two hours later.

Locals and IEC staff commented on what appeared to have been a remarkably low turnout. A number of of them blamed the federal government’s failure to win individuals’s belief and help. An area elder stated that numerous individuals didn’t take part due to the failure of the government to deliver providers. Haji Qasim, one other local elder and campaigner for one of the presidential tickets in the 2014 election stated: “Aside from promises, I haven’t seen any consequence of my work with candidates. Subsequently, I not marketing campaign for any candidate and I don’t permit my household and family members to take part in the election.” A instructor in Taloqan informed AAN that folks have been uninterested in pretend guarantees. He added that candidates only come once they want locals’ help, but when the individuals need the candidates, they don’t seem to be obtainable.

Because of the shutdown of mobile phone networks, it isn’t yet attainable to say how the vote went (both turnout, or technically, voter lists and BVV units and so on) in Takhar’s 16 districts, or, certainly, if it occurred in any respect in the heavily-contested districts of the Mawara-ye Kokcha space: Khawja Bahauddin, Khawja Ghar, Yangi Qalah and Dasht-e Qala. Native officials a day before election informed the writer that no election had been deliberate in Darqad district.

Takhar: voting

A lot of polling centres that AAN visited throughout election day confronted technical problems with the BVV units and printers. In a number of polling centres, the BVV units both had no cost to function or did not connect with the offered energy financial institution. In a couple of others, the units did not settle for the IEC staff’ log-in code. This triggered delays to some centres in opening on time (7:00 am). In one polling centre where the BVV system rejected the IEC worker’s log-in code, this AAN observer was requested for assist. In one other polling centre at 7:30 am, the top of the polling centre was operating around without noticing that the BVV gadget had no cost at all (the gadget was later plugged into a power financial institution).

The voter listing was one other problem in some locations. For example, in Pir Muhammad Khaksar mosque polling centre, two voters who have been registered there were not allowed to vote. Their tazkiras had a sticker from that polling centre, but the BVV system rejected them. Comparable issues have been seen in a number of other polling centres too.

AAN’s observer adopted your complete course of to assess how long it might take for a voter to forged a vote. To clean the process of voting IEC had posted voters’ lists in every polling centre and had assigned a delegated worker to take a look at tazkirsa and instruct voters where to go. At every polling station, one other IEC worker checked the tazkira once more earlier than letting the voter in. As soon as inside, at three separate desks, the IEC employees 1) checked the tazkira with a particular torch, 2) captured the biometric knowledge of the voter (fingerprints and photograph) and 3) handed over the poll paper and inked the voter’s finger. The voter then proceeded to the voting sales space and forged their vote. All the process took on common three to four minutes per voter.

Mahbubullah, an area IEC official, advised AAN that because of the telecommunication shut-down and lack of web connection, the BVV units can be sent whole to the IEC in Kabul. He added that each one knowledge can be entered into BVV units and that the IEC workplace in Kabul would join the BVV units to the web and rely the turnout determine.

In the polling centres visited through the election day, AAN encountered some observers from the Clear Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), Afghan Civil Society Discussion board (ASCF), in addition to candidate agents who have been observing the vote for the two incumbent presidential candidates: Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. Native IEC official Mahbubullah advised AAN the IEC had prepared statement cards for all candidates, but that just a few candidates had assigned observers (he did not specify which).

Local journalist Abdul Ghafor Ibrahimi advised AAN that only three presidential candidates had held giant gatherings in Takhar. The others, he stated, had had no campaign activities in the province.

Takhar: reported turnout 

In accordance with the newest IEC figures, 169 of Takhar’s 229 planned polling centres, and 791 of Takhar’s 1026 deliberate polling stations, have been open on election day. 60 centres with 235 polling centres have been closed. Takhar, in accordance with the newest IEC figures, reported a total of round 64,000 votes. Turnout in Takhar in the 2018 parliamentary election stood at over 60 per cent. The current turnout appears to be coming in at less than 20 per cent, which seems to fit the circumstances and observations, though giant numbers of votes forged in remote or insecure areas will still must be intently scrutinised.

three. Wardak/Maidan Shahr election day remark

AAN visited two polling centres in Maidan Shahr, Wardak’s provincial capital; one outdoors the municipal workplace within the Provincial Governor’s compound and a second in Awal Baba faculty, and spoke to IEC staff, ANSF personnel, election observers and one voter.

Wardak: security 

The roads in and round Maidan Shahr have been virtually solely abandoned. A Taleban assertion issued two days earlier than the election requested “fellow countrymen to refrain from venturing out of their houses on today so that, might God forbid, no one is harmed.” Civilians in Wardak, it appeared, took the menace significantly. On the Kabul-Ghazni Freeway, between the gates of Kabul and Maidan Shahr, there was just one single civilian car—an armoured Land Cruiser—on the normally bustling 30 kilometre stretch of street. It was flanked front and rear by Afghan Nationwide Police Humvees.

Afghan Border Forces struggle from contained in the grounds of the Awal Baba faculty voting centre in Maidan Shahr. Sher Mohammad, pictured, stated Taliban fighters have been 200m away. Photograph: Andrew Quilty, 2019

Nearly all of violence in Maidan Shahr concerned indirect hearth, especially rockets, relatively than targeted attacks. This was skilled instantly by the writer while visiting the polling centre in the provincial governor’s compound. At 11 am, whereas talking with Rahmatullah, a 19 year-old fIrst-time IEC worker from Maidan Shahr, a rocket struck. He stated it was perhaps the seventh that had struck the town that morning. Nobody flinched. Then another whistled by way of the air above, scattering election staff and security personnel, earlier than thudding somewhere east of the town.

By the point we reached our car outdoors the primary entrance to the compound, nine rockets had struck close sufficient to hear in lower than 30 minutes. Machine gun bursts within the distance have been turning into more frequent as properly.

The Awal Baba Faculty polling centre was a short drive away, approximately half a kilometre west of the town centre. The streets have been abandoned. The street instantly outdoors the varsity was open to visitors, though there was none. Two men from the Afghan Border Pressure manned the open faculty gate. Inside, an IED had been discovered and removed from the front yard, between the gate and the polling centre, earlier within the morning.

By noon, the sound of machine gunfire might be heard outdoors virtually always. The IEC supervisor for the centre, Ehsanullah, blamed the poor safety state of affairs for the dismally low turnout. “Pay attention,” he stated. “There’s preventing. Individuals are staying in their houses.”

At 12:45 pm, a rocket struck 150 metres away. Another adopted soon after, sending a column of dust into the air, which was just seen above the treetops from the varsity. IEC staff and observers hurried into the corridor to get away from the classroom home windows should the subsequent rocket land closer.

A gaggle of Afghan Border Forcesoldiersfought from a small amphitheatre on the japanese fringe of the varsity. One in every of them, Shah Muhammadfrom Kapisa, rotated between a belt-fed machine gun, which he fired from the hip till smoke rose alongside its size, and a rocket propelled grenade launcher. Incoming rounds from Taliban fighters that Shah Mohammad stated have been about 200m away sounded overhead. The lads ran and crouched within the lee of the amphitheatre stairs when a rocket fizzed above and, having overshot its mark, exploded someplace beyond the varsity.

Based on further info acquired from Sayedabad district centre, one of the more populous district towns of Wardak province, steady shelling – by the Taleban towards the district centre and by authorities forces towards surrounding villages held by the Taleban – prevented individuals from voting. The shelling was so intense that the local inhabitants was even unable to bury a outstanding local tribal elder, who had passed away on election day, on the same day as tradition requires.

Wardak: turnout and voting

In Maidan Shahr, the primary polling centre visited was situated in the provincial governor’s compound, outdoors the province’s municipality office. At 11 am, Rahmatullah, the IEC employee from Maidan Shahr, explained there were 15 stations in the centre, together with three for ladies. Three hours after the polls opened, his station had acquired “10 to 15 votes.”

A female police officer conducting safety checks on ladies getting into the voting centre stated two had come via because the polling centre opened three hours before.

At the Awal Baba Faculty polling centre, a two-storey faculty building, IEC staff at six stations waited for2,170 registered voters, together with 304 ladies to show up. After five hours of voting, in accordance with the centre’s manager Ehsanullah, solely 20 individuals had forged ballots, two of whom have been ladies. It was Ehsanullah’s second presidential election as an IEC worker. The difference between 2014 and 2019 was two-fold, he stated: “This time, the method is best, but individuals aren’t attending due to [the lack of] safety.” He anticipated a total of 50-60 votes at his centre as soon as the polls closed for the day. Even which will have been optimistic.

Due to the extraordinarily low turnout in Maidan Shahr, AAN was unable to make any meaningful assessment relating to the proficiency of the voting course of on the bottom.

AAN only witnessed one individual voting at Awal Baba over a two-hour interval, though part of that time was spent outdoors with members of the ANSF. The process was with out incident. Abdul Wahid, who dropped his vote in a clear plastic field alongside three different ballots at 1 pm, was the primary voter to reach in half an hour. “We’re voting for the way forward for Afghanistan,” he stated. “Though we’re unsure the process shall be transparent, we might at the least wish to try to choose the individual we would like.” With preventing still audible outdoors, Wahid stated he had been apprehensive concerning the Taliban threats however in contrast to a majority of registered voters, it wasn’t sufficient to put him off casting his vote. “We’re used to these circumstances,” he stated. “It doesn’t scare me.”

The biometric machines distributed to polling stations seemed to be working easily. The primary drawback was that streaming YouTube videos, as at the very least one bored IEC worker was doing in Awal Baba, wasn’t their meant use (with internet connections, the units have been apparently permitted some searching features).

The cell phone network within the provincial capital was not affected by the bans instituted in lots of Wardak’s other districts.

Wardak: security of the vote 

There was a handful of observers present within the polling centre. Sayed Yakubshud was twice the age of most observers that have been there. He was volunteering for Hezb-eIslami, whose chief, Gulbudsin Hekmatyar, had made statements days previous to the election threatening a return to arms if the vote was found to be fraudulent. Yakubshud was glad with the method–at the least the steps he might see. Although no one was voting, he stated, “The transparency is sweet.” He did, nevertheless, categorical scepticism about steps within the course of after the ballots had left the voting centre. He additionally believed that if there was fraud, it might be evident in districts like Jalrez and Nerkh, where, he stated, nobody would vote. “If there are votes in these bins,” he stated, “we’ll know.”

Wardak: reported turnout

In response to the newest IEC figures, 83 of Wardak’s 106 planned polling centres, and 392 of Wardak’s 516 deliberate polling stations, have been open on election day. 23 centres with 124 polling centres have been closed. Wardak, in response to the newest IEC figures, reported a total of a bit of over 20,000 votes. Turnout in Wardak in the 2018 parliamentary election stood at over 40 per cent. The present turnout appears to be coming at round 13 per cent, which is not high however may nonetheless be inflated, given the truth that even within the provincial capital few individuals have been voting.

4. Balkh/Mazar-e Sharif provincial reporting

AAN visited eight polling centres in Mazar-e Sharif metropolis, capital of Balkh province, on election day and spoke to IEC officers, observers, journalists, agents and voters.

Balkh: security

 Mazar-e Sharif, capital of Balkh province, was quiet on election day with not many safety forces on the streets. 5 or 6 policemen have been stationed in entrance and inside of each polling centre. Solely in a type of visited, Ali Chopan Excessive Faculty, have been there also two individuals from NDS (recognised as such by AAN’s local driver). Otherwise, the one seen safety measure was a ban on vans getting into and leaving the town. There have been no visible checkpoints in the city. In the night before the election, the provincial head of FEFA for Balkh commented on the shortage of seen safety measures, saying, “It’s so quiet, it doesn’t seem there will probably be an election.” There didn’t look like a telecommunication ban, as had been the case in some other northern areas, although the networks have been typically weak. In some districts, similar to Sholgar, AAN observed that only a few of the networks have been lively.

Balkh: turnout

Noticed turnout was extraordinarily low in Mazar city compared to the Wolesi Jirga Election in 2018 (which this observer witnessed) and different elections up to now. In all eight polling centres AAN observed there have been no strains and voters might simply go and forged their votes. For example, at the first polling centre visited in Sultan Razia Excessive Faculty on Saturday morning, there was no queue, just ten to 12 individuals arriving one after one other. In October 2018, more than 50 individuals have been ready outdoors this centre queuing as much as vote. Within the polling centre in Oil and Fuel Institute in Mazar-e Sharif, at 11:40 am the full turnout for all seven polling stations was 406, while in October 2018, at 11:30 already more than 400 voters had appeared in only three of the centre’s polling stations.

Civil society activist and head of an area assume tank, the Afghan Human Rights Analysis and Advocacy Group (AHRRAO), Hayatullah Jawad, advised AAN that they had expected the turnout to be decrease. He thought worry from the Taleban and disappointment within the political leaders within the government have been the primary causes for this. Another civil society activist who asked not to be named informed AAN individuals have been afraid of the Taleban after they warned they might use violence to disrupt the election. A taxi driver in Shaikh Seddiq Shahab High Faculty polling centre who spoke whereas cleaning his inked finger after voting, explained why he was voting, however thought others would not. Individuals in Mazar metropolis have been capable of come out to vote, he stated, however within the districts they might be too afraid of the Taleban. He himself commonly took passengers to districts along roads the place Taleban have been present – which was why he was so assiduously cleansing his inked finger.

Qari Muhammad Taqi, imam of a mosque in Mazar and taxi driver, thought individuals have been disenchanted as a result of candidates promise many issues, but do not maintain their guarantees. “They voted prior to now hoping issues would get higher,” he advised AAN, “however they only received worse. Individuals say, ‘None of the presidential candidates serve the nation’.”

Another factor which will have affected turnout was that there appeared to have been no organised transport to ferry voters to the polling centres. Through the 2018 parliamentary elections, a number of the candidates offered transportation to individuals so they might easily reach the polling centres.

Balkh: voting

Voting, when it occurred, appeared to go comparatively properly, albeit with some technical issues. The primary polling centre AAN visited was Sultan Razia Excessive Faculty. Although the centre opened on time, voting only started at 7:40 when the first voters showed up. Ten to 12 individuals have been noticed coming to forged their votes that morning. When voters came, an IEC employees member close to the polling station checked individuals’s names towards the voter record hanging on the polling centre’s outdoors wall. The rest of the procedure – identifying voters on the print-out voter listing, studying the QR code on their stickers and matching them with the BVV, taking their pictures, inking their fingers and printing the code to be fastened onto the poll paper, in order that they might finally forged their votes – went smoothly. Your complete process took two to a maximum of three minutes for every voter.

In a lot of the eight polling stations visited, the BVV gadget stopped working at occasions or was operating very slowly. There were voters whose names have been on the printed listing, however the BVV software program didn’t recognise them, and consequently, some voters have been disadvantaged of their proper to vote. In the Sheikh Seddiq Shahab Excessive Faculty polling centre, a person got here to vote, but the BVV showed his sticker number was for a lady, so he couldn’t vote. He stated that in the parliamentary election he had been capable of vote. Within the polling centre in the Ustad Wejdan Excessive Faculty, there was a case with a printer that was not working, and the IEC employees asked for an additional one. This took half an hour, and then voting began again. In polling station quantity 4 of Ustad Wejdan High Faculty, which was for ladies, the BBV gadget was not working and many ladies left with out voting.

There have been candidate agents for Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani in all polling stations and in three instances, also for Rahmatullah Nabil, and in a single case for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. There was additionally an unbiased observer every from FEFA and the Afghanistan Civil Society Forum in each polling station.

In Ghulam Rasoul Sanayee Faculty, the place the turnout was very low, most IEC employees have been sitting relaxed behind their desks, with only one polling station busy serving voters. Shaikh Seddiq Shahab High Faculty was a bit of more crowded, however it seemed not as a result of more voters had turned up; voters complained that the IEC employees have been working very slowly. They stated the BVV was very sluggish and that was why the whole lot was taking longer.

Balkh: reported turnout

In line with the newest IEC figures, 156 of Balkh’s 282 deliberate polling centres, and 980 of Balkh’s 1,467 planned polling stations, have been open on election day. 126 centres with 487 polling centres have been closed. Balkh, in response to the newest IEC figures, reported a total of just about 75,000 votes. Turnout in Balkh within the 2018 parliamentary election stood at virtually 44 per cent (see here). The reported turnout seems to be coming in at round 16 per cent. This appears to suit the circumstances and observations, although giant numbers of votes forged in remote or insecure areas will nonetheless must be intently scrutinised.

Forthcoming provincial reporting

For more election day reporting from the provinces, see additionally AAN’s forthcoming stories from Zabul, Herat and Bamyan. The turnout and polling centre/polling station figures for these provinces are:

In response to the newest IEC figures, 36 of Zabul’s 43 planned polling centres, and 197 of its 213 deliberate polling stations, have been open on election day. 7 centres with 16 polling centres have been reported closed – in an earlier update this had been 8 centres with 21 polling stations. Zabul based on the newest IEC figures, reported a complete of slightly over 18,000 votes, which would be a turnout of around 28 per cent. This seems implausibly excessive, notably since turnout in the 2018 parliamentary election stood at just a little over 20 per cent.

In response to the newest IEC figures, 253 of Herat’s 300 planned polling centres, and 1582 of its 1738 planned polling stations, have been open on election day. 47 centres with 156 polling centres have been closed. Herat, in accordance with the newest IEC figures, reported a complete of just about 130,000 votes, which would be a turnout of just about 23 per cent. Turnout in Herat within the 2018 parliamentary election stood at virtually 60 per cent. The turnout figure doesn’t appears implausible, however giant numbers of votes from remote or insecure areas will still must be intently scrutinised.

In line with the newest IEC figures, 219 of Bamyan’s deliberate 220 polling centres, and 647 of the 649 planned polling stations, have been open on election day. Bamyan, in response to the newest IEC figures, reported a complete of round 84,000 votes, which would be a turnout of just about 50 per cent. In the 2018 parliamentary election Bamyan’s turnout was reported to have been 75 per cent.



(1) The newest turnout figures from the IEC are taken from the record posted by IEC commissioner Mawlana Mohammad Abdullah on his Fb web page on three October 2019.

The turnout figures for the 2018 parliamentary elections have been taken from this dataset and concern valid votes.