Political Landscape

What the preliminary results tell us (3): Logar, Baghlan and Uruzgan

Another brief overview of what you can find when going through the preliminary election results in which a few simple calculations illustrate how far some people will go, acquiring thousands of votes often in very limited localities. No wonder voters feel their vote no longer counts. So let’s take a brief look at some results from Logar, Baghlan and Uruzgan.

The Logar results show great extremes. There is a very large number of polling centres with low turnout, many of them having less than 50 votes per station. The centres with slightly higher numbers show signs of manipulation but the margins are not outrageous – with the exception of the two districts of Azro and Charkh.

In Charkh district the fraud was dominated by two candidates (14 and 41) who gathered their votes in a very limited number of polling centres. Candidate 14 received 5,987 out of a total of 6,408 votes in four polling centres (respectively 583 votes in 503041; 2,750 in 503042; 1,472 in 503043; and 1,182 in 503044), while candidate 41 received 2,813 out of a total of 2,972 votes in three polling centres (506 votes in polling centre 503041; 1,039 in 503043; and 1,268 in 503044). In polling centre 503044 not a single vote out of a total of 2,450 was cast for any other candidate.

In Azro there were five polling centres (out of nine) with implausibly high figures. Several candidates received over half of their total votes in single polling centres. In 507075 (Chotra school) for instance candidates 5 and 40 received respectively 1,311 and 2,094, representing 65.5% and 59.5% of their total vote. In 507076 (Akbar Kheil school) candidate 46 received 2,903 votes out of a personal total of 4,121. In 507079 (Razi Kheil secondary school) candidates 35 and 45 received respectively 1,490 and 1,028 votes, providing them with 66.3% and even 74.9% of their total vote in one single polling centre. And so on. In the presidential elections the same ballot-stuffers apparently rallied around the relatively unknown Mohammad Sarwar Ahmadzai, providing him with over seven thousand votes in four polling centres (which of course still got him nowhere, but it was a nice try).

In Baghlan the relatively large number of provincial council candidates (193) and the relatively low turnout (particularly in the insecure areas) means that the votes were spread rather thin. Any figure over 30 stands out. Whereas in some provinces there seems to have been a fairly limited number of candidates that were blatantly involved in the manipulation, in Baghlan there was a fairly extensive spread with different candidates dominating the process in different districts. And again we see that some of the candidates with the highest results received the bulk of their votes in a very limited number of polling stations. In many of these areas – among others Dehan-e Ghori and Baghlan-e Jadid – the security situtation provided extra opportunities for interference. There are multiple reports of the police having taken off with ballot boxes during polling due to (alleged) threats of an insurgent attack, and returning them full.

Candidate 163 for instance, a female candidate with an exceptionally high vote, received 1,985 of her 2,939 votes in a few polling centres in Pol-e Khomri and Dehan-e Ghori districts, often with suspiciously high figures per polling station. In many of these stations she was joined by candidates 85, 92 and/or 121 and in several cases they gathered almost all the votes between them (see for instance polling centres 1601030, 1601032, 1601232 and 1603075).

The results of candidate 176, who came second with a total of 4,745 votes, show a similar pattern. He gathered practically all his votes in six polling centres in Tala wa Barfak, with an average of 662 votes per centre. He was joined in many centres by candidates 145 and 165, and between them they often shared the total number of votes cast in that centre. See for instance 1609249 where over 1,100 votes out of a total of 1,202 were suspiciously cast, with 550 for 165 and 370 for 176. In polling centre 1609171 1,344 out of a total of 1,391 votes were cast for 165 and 176 (respectively 440 and 904) with only 47 votes cast for the other 191 candidates.

Candidate 169, who came in fifth with 3,092 votes, received over 88% of his votes in four polling centres in Baghlan-e Jadid (a total of 2,735 votes in polling centres 1602192, 1602194, 1602197, and 1602198). And so on. And so on. This pattern is found in other provinces as well: a candidate with good local contacts (electoral staff, government authorities, security forces) or means of persuasion can easily engineer a victory in a very limited number of polling stations.

The number of votes cast per polling station in the presidential and provincial council elections tended to be very close in both provinces, suggesting that the ballot stuffing in both elections was done by the same people or at least by people who coordinated with each other. See for instance the results of polling centre 1606121 in Andarab (Sare Pol village, north of the mountain and near the river). In this centre candidate 161 received 100 / 100 / 100 / 101 votes in four polling stations out of a total of 300 / 191 / 128 / 267. The total presidential vote was 301 / 192 / 129 / 269, with votes cast for Karzai: 110 / 101 / 100 / 107 (in Andarab – not quite a bulwark of Karzai support).

In other provinces the manipulation was less well coordinated. Take for instance Uruzgan. In polling centre 3001006 (in Talani village, Tirin Kot district) the following results were registered in the provincial council and presidential elections:

PC:    216 / 171 / 167 / 95 / 93 / 84 / 57 / 0
Pres: 216 / 167 / 167 / 89 / 95 / 85 / 58 / 600   (all 600 for Karzai)

Or in central Khas Uruzgan, where actual voting was very limited – as opposed to the Hazara enclave in the east – the votes were cast in 3003029 (central clinic) like this:

PC:    405 / 322 / 363 / 282 / 511    (total 1,883)
Pres: 504 / 540 / 556 / 550 / 600    (total 2,750)

Or in Khanaqa (3001008), where the totally redundant kuchi polling stations were used to bolster the presidential vote (and this is not the only place where this happened):

PC:    141 / 397 / 280 / 437 / 437 / — / —
Pres: 138 / 377 / 277 / 430 / 433 / 577 / 553

There is so much more to say; about each province, about so many of the candidates, about the polling centres and the districts. You often see the picture emerge of what happened by just looking at the figures. You can hear the complaints of the voters and candidates that had thought things were going to be different. So many people that are going to get away with this.

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Thematic Category: Political Landscape