Political Landscape

AAN Election Blog No. 29: ‘A fraud would go unnoticed’


Imagine it is election-day and someone else casts your vote. It is possible because in many polling stations no one will ask for your ID card.

Malalai Nassir (not her real name) was flabbergasted. When she went to the ballot box on election-day, the electoral staff did not check her ID card. No, that’s not necessary to identify a voter.

Malalai is concerned, however. ‘My sister who is living with me is away in the moment. She did not vote and her voter card is in the kitchen. I could have cast my vote with her card and there would have been the chance that no one would have noticed.’
Theoretically this is possible. After all, the electoral personnel in the polling stations changes after lunch time. Could Malalai have voted for herself in the morning and for her sister in the afternoon?

According to the electoral law, it is indeed not obligatory that an ID card has to be shown, says an official of the local election commission. ‘Only when the polling staff assumes that it is not the voter him- or herself or if the voter is not personally known, they have to demand that an ID is shown.’

It is possible that such a fraud goes unnoticed, admits an election official. ‘But the voter has his or her own responsibility not to act against the prohibition to vote twice.’ Indeed, someone who casts a vote with someone else’s voter card acts against the law. It stipulates that the vote has to be cast in person.

But how can such fraud been prevented if the voter’s identity is not checked? ‘There are complaints coming in time and again in similar cases’ says the office of the regional election commission. In one case, a complainant stated that he had been offered to buy a voter card. The complaint was rejected because the complainants’ demonstration had been too vague and was not accessible for further investigation.

And what if someone of similar age and gender votes for someone else? ‘It would be necessary to exactly know the circumstances. Generally, I think this is very unlikely. But if this happened it would have to be decided whether this really affected the outcome of the vote’, says the official. Only after it has been proven that the fraud really had influenced the result the whole election could be contested.

(Comment: We just realize that this case actually happened in Leipzig in Saxony, Germany, where provincial shura elections took place last Sunday. We apologize for inadvertently publishing this article on this blog. Original found in, translated and slightly edited from die tageszeitung, Berlin, 1 Sept 2009.)

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Thematic Category: Political Landscape