A deadline for Afghans to register to vote in the October 20 legislative elections has been extended, officials said Friday, as figures show hundreds of civilians have already been killed or wounded in poll-related violence. Enrolment for the long-delayed parliamentary and district council elections began on April 14 and was originally scheduled to finish in mid-June. By Thursday, just over 1.5 million adults had signed up to vote, a spokesman for the Independent Election Commission (IEC) told AFP — a fraction of the 14 million it had hoped to register during the two-month process. “The election commission of Afghanistan has extended the voting registration process for one month,” the IEC said in a statement, without explaining the reason for the decision.
Articles about voting issues in The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani sacked the chairman of the country’s Independent Election Commission on Wednesday, raising doubts over whether parliamentary and council ballots scheduled for next year will take place as planned. Najibullah Ahmadzai, head of the body charged with organizing the elections, had faced growing pressure following repeated delays to preparations for them and had lost the support of both Ghani and disillusioned foreign donors. The 2018 votes are seen as dry runs for a presidential election in 2019 and a key test of the progress made by Afghanistan’s Western-backed government towards establishing durable democratic institutions.
The e-voting system assessment committee on Thursday said that the complete implementation of e-voting system in Afghanistan is not practical. According to the commission, it would be difficult to conduct the country’s parliamentary and district council elections in the current year. According to the committee, currently, the e-voting system is applicable only in a few areas of the election process which include the voter registration process, the certification of voters’ identity during voting and the transfer of results of voting. But, the CEO’s office has said that investigations and assessments of the process are underway.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Monday said it had rejected the first proposal of the technical team on the e-voting system, and that it had called for the plan to be reviewed. The IEC said it had raised 38 queries with regards to the proposal and that the plan needs to be reassessed, said IEC spokesman Gulajan Abdulbadi Sayad. This comes a day after the (IEC) said the team tasked with reviewing an e-voting system for Afghanistan would send their results to the commission within the next three days.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) will call in local, regional and international experts to assist with a strategic assessment around implementing an e-voting system, IEC officials said on Tuesday. The IEC operational deputy head, Wasima Badghisi, said the election commission will share the findings of this assessment with the public in the near future. She said there is a possibility that the next election will be held under the new plan. The call for help from international experts was aimed at identifying weaknesses and strengths of an e-voting system as well as its impacts on election transparency.
The government is in talks with donor countries about introducing an e-voting system in the country, the office of the CEO Abdullah Abdullah announced on Wednesday, saying the move will help to ensure credibility and transparency of future elections. Meanwhile, the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) has said there is nothing stopping the launch of such a system and called on donors and relevant departments to take steps to fund the process.
According to the ECC, an e-voting system can help ensure transparency and fairness in elections and it could prevent voter fraud.
The timetable for the parliament election of Afghanistan is likely to be announced by early March of this year. Deputy presidential spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazvi said the Independent Election Commission should present the timetable for the parliamentary election by early March. He said a meeting was also organized with the international donors to discuss the arrangement of funds for the elections. Murtazvi further added that the United Nations will also support the government and is working on technical team to cooperate with the electoral bodies.
Afghanistan’s top electoral official has resigned, potentially complicating efforts to organise parliamentary elections for this northern autumn. Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani, who has repeatedly accused the government of meddling in the electoral process, stepped down two years after himself being accused of failing to prevent fraud in a bitterly disputed presidential ballot. A spokesman for the Independent Election Commission, which Mr Nuristani chaired, said he had resigned in the “national interest”, declining to comment further. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accepted his resignation, the presidential palace said on its Twitter feed.
Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission publicly confirmed the official results of the disputed 2014 election on Wednesday, more than a year and a half after the vote that elevated former finance minister Ashraf Ghani to the presidency. The 2014 election, touted as the first peaceful democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan, descended to the brink of chaos as Ghani and his rival, Abdullah Abdullah, traded accusations of fraud. According to the official numbers, Ghani won a runoff election in June 2014 with 55.27 percent of the vote to Abdullah’s 44.73 percent. It was at the request of both candidates, who now share power as part of a U.S.-brokered unity government, that the election commission delayed the release of the official numbers, said the commission’s chief, Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani.
The Afghan election commission said Monday that it had set an Oct. 15 date for long-delayed parliamentary and district council elections. But the announcement immediately raised fears of new political deadlock after the country’s power-sharing government denounced the plan as illegitimate. In announcing the date, Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani, the chief of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission, evidently did not coordinate with the government. And a spokesman for Abdullah Abdullah, the government’s chief executive, criticized the scheduling because the electoral reform he had demanded had not gone through. “The current election commission has no legitimacy because it was their weak management of the previous election that brought us on the brink of chaos,” said Javid Faisal, a spokesman for Mr. Abdullah. “Reforming the election process is a precondition to any election, and a part of the larger reform is the changing of current commission officials.”