Last minute figures indicate that there will be no voting in nine districts; that it is still not clear how many polling station are planned to be open (the ambiguity could lead to ‘ghost polling’), and that FEFA observers will cover roughly 60% of the country’s districts. Complaints received by the ECC show marked regional differences.
It is by now clear that there will be no voting in nine districts. The IEC has however still not finalised its list of active polling stations. The latest figure (yesterday) was that slightly over 6,500 polling stations had been confirmed, with the decision on 178 stations still pending. The total figure is to be announced tomorrow afternoon, once actual polling is underway, and is expected to be between 6,500 and 6,900 polling stations. The continued ambiguity leaves ample room for localised decision making and confusion, which is likely to result in the opening of ‘ghost polling stations’ in at least some areas (i.e. stations that are reported to have opened and that at the end of the day deliver full boxes and matching voting figures, but nobody really knows what happened in between and where).
On Wednesday the IEC also announced the existence of 186 mobile polling stations, which will visit prisons and hospitals to allow inmates and patients to vote as well. Afghans expressed suspicion of these ‘ballot boxes that are being driven around town’, doubting that their movement will be well monitored.
FEFA announced that it will have observers in 249 of the country’s 364 districts. This is a coverage of roughly 60% in terms of districts, but the coverage in terms of polling stations is likely to be considerably less, in particular in the insecure areas (in many districts there will probably only be monitoring in the district centre).
Finally, information released by the ECC on the number of complaints received so far shows an interesting discrepancy between the north and the south. Provinces with the highest numbers of filed complaints are Kabul (46), Takhar (46), Balkh (24), Kunduz and Nangarhar (both 21), Badakhshan (19), Sare Pol and Herat (both 17) and Faryab (13). Ten provinces had zero complaints (Kapisa, Wardak, Logar, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Kandahar, Nimruz, Daikundi and Panjshir), while the remaining provices had between one and six. 168 complaints were received at headquarter level and these will undoubtedly include complaints from the seemingly ‘silent’ provinces. The relatively low level of complaints, in particular in the insecure areas, is likely to be an indicator of fear and doubt rather than disengagement.
Of the total 439 complaints received 107 were against presidential candidates and 6 against vice presidential candidates (these were almost all filed in Kabul and at HQ level). 129 complaints were against provincial council candidates, 163 against organisations (27 of which were in Takhar, so there must be a story there) and 34 against other respondents (which are likely to be the complaints in response to complaints, 10 of these were filed in Badakhshan alone).
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020