Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Political Landscape

Elections 2014 (48): Key documents underwriting the electoral audit

Martine van Bijlert 20 min

While the Abdullah team has already dismissed both the audit and its outcome, the IEC still needs to finalise the process to arrive at a new result. As a background to the audit and its tumultuous history, AAN has gathered a number of key documents in one place. These include the three main IEC decisions on the audit criteria, the invalidation criteria and the (in)validation decisions as well as three UN press statements in response to events.  

The tug of war over the audit - AAN offers insights into decisions and reactions in the original documents. Photo: Martine van Bijlert

The documents included in this dispatch are:

I. IEC decisions

  • IEC decision no. 30-1393: Criteria for 100 % audit of all run-off election polling station ballots (dated 15 July 2014)
  • IEC decision no. 33-1393: Criteria for recount and nullification of votes for audit of all run-off election polling stations (dated 30 July 2014)
  • IEC decision no. 37-1393: Decision-making on audit and recount results of run-off election ballot boxes (dated 16 August 2014)

II. UNAMA press statements

  • UN press statement: UN Welcomes Afghan electoral authorities’ first decisions on audit (dated 25 August 2014)
  • UN press statement: UN highlights consultative nature of election audit (dated 26 August 2014)
  • UN press statement: UN continues to respond to candidates’ technical concerns on audit (dated 1 September 2014)

Two earlier “key document dispatches” included correspondence between the Abdullah team and the IEC in late June 2014 and transcripts of recordings released by the Abdullah camp at the time (see here) and a collection of documents underwriting the electoral agreement brokered by US State Secretary Kerry (see here).

For analytical background to the current electoral deadlock see previous AAN reporting on the start of the audit (without the criteria being clear); the decision of the UN to intervene;  the second time Kerry came to try to save the day; the introduction of the “special audit;” the final pullout from the audit by the Abdullah team; and the IEC’s pending invalidation decisions.

 

I. On the IEC decisions (annex 1-3)

One of the complicating factors of the audit was that, for the results to be accepted at the end, it seemed imperative that both candidate agreed with all details of the audit’s design. This led to several series of circular negotiations, which were often ‘solved’ by compromises that were in effect delayed disagreements. As a result, the IEC decisions contain text that could be read as implying that demands by the Abdullah camp that had not been met yet, could still be so in the future, but they do not actually commit to this. Consequently, the two sides could later continue to disagree over what they had agreed to.

IEC decision 30 (annex 1), which outlines the criteria for checking each ballot box, is the first result of the four-way negotiations (Abdullah camp, Ghani camp and IEC, brokered by UNAMA). It represents the inclusion of some of the demands by the Abdullah camp that were more far-reaching than the original IEC criteria, while reflecting the insistence by the Ghani camp that all criteria should be equally applied to all polling stations (without singling out specific areas). The sixteen criteria described in IEC decision 30 became the basis for the checklist that was filled in at every single auditing table by the IEC staff and the candidates’ observers (until they were pulled from the audit). Language added to persuade Abdullah that his demands might still be addressed in the future, included that of the sixteenth of the criteria (which is the fifth of the UN-proposed ones). This later became the basis for the extensive ‘special audit:’

“16. Do the ballot boxes contain results which require special scrutiny according to best international practices (e.g. when there is major difference between the total votes of the first and run-off elections)? If yes, in this case, these ballot boxes must especially be addressed by both national and international observers and agents of candidates.”

IEC decision 33 (annex 2) provides details of the irregularities that may be found during the audit and what the consequences are: recount, invalidation of a whole polling station, or invalidation of certain ballots. IEC document 37 (annex 3) then details the decisions the IEC commissioners need to take for every polling station: validation, invalidation or recount.

The first two – validation and invalidation of the whole polling station – are relatively straightforward; the third – recount/partial invalidation – is potentially much more tricky. This is also the part of the process that is still ongoing and has not yet been made public (for more details see here).

 

II. On the UNAMA press releases (annex 4-6)

UNAMA’s often very long press releases can be read as an archive of efforts to keep the faith in the face of continuous (potential and actual) deadlock, to complement the IEC’s patchy transparency and to explain and delimitate the UN’s own role – in an atmosphere that is both charged with high expectations, and often swirling with allegations and suspicions. Many of the press releases provide a useful record of factual background, as well as of how the UN would like this process to be remembered.

UNAMA’s 25 August 2014 press release (annex 4) was useful because it provided the first clear clue of what was going to happen to the boxes that had received the verdict “recount/partial invalidation.” This category has since then been steadily growing and involves well over 6000 polling stations that the IEC still needs to deal with in an open session (for more details on why this is a tricky last phase, see here).

UNAMA’s 26 August press statement (annex 5) was in response to the ultimatum presented by the Abdullah camp, earlier that day, that if their demands were not met, and the audit would continue to be “a joke,” they would walk away and not come back. The UN press statement describes, in much detail, the steps and consultations that led to the (imperfect) agreement on the audit design and lists the ways in which, according to the UN, the demands of the Abdullah camp had been taken into account (see also the transcript of a press encounter by UNAMA Deputy Head Nicholas Haysom).  The press statement further mentions a “new issue raised by the Reform and Partnership Team related to possible similar handwriting across multiple results forms.” This new issue would play a role later that week, when on 30 August 2014, it was cited as one of the reasons the Abdullah camp announced a second ultimatum, now threatening to walk away from the political negotiations as well.

In response to the second ultimatum, the UN released a statement (annex 6) that it “continued to respond to candidates’ technical concerns” which provided some more detail on the allegation, the (scale of the) evidence provided and how the UN is handling it.

Since then the UN has posted two short election-related statements, one attributable to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon  and one to Special Representative Ján Kubiš  (who endorsed a statement by Afghanistan’s ulema council). They respectively reminded the candidates – not for the first time – of their (signed) agreement to accept the results of the audit and urged them to agree on the formation of a national unity government soon.

 

ANNEX 1. IEC decision no. 30-1393 on audit criteria (15 July 2014)

Subject: Criteria for 100 % audit of all run-off election polling station ballots

Under Article 13 of the Structural Law of the IEC and IECC and the technical framework agreed on among the run-off election candidates and the United Nations the IEC decided that:

100% audit of all run-off election polling station ballots must be carried out based on the following check list composed of 11 criteria approved by the IEC and 5 criteria proposed by the United Nation:

11 criteria approved by the IEC:

  1. Is the ballot box of the same type as distributed by the Commission for the present election? Yes / No
  2. Is the ballot box intact? Yes / No if no, please explain.
  3. Is there a sticker on the ballot box indicating code of the polling center and station? Yes / No
  4. How many seals does the ballot box lid have and how many of them are intact? It has ( ) seals and ( ) out of them are intact.
  5. Can the seals of the ballot box be opened with the force of hand? Yes / No
  6. Are the serial numbers of the seals similar as given on the seal Serial Number Recording Form inside the ballot box? Yes / No
  7. Is the result form copy inside the ballot box? Yes / No
  8. Are there any unused, spoiled and invalid ballot papers inside the box? Yes / No if yes, how many ballot papers? A total of ( ) unused ballot papers – a total of ( ) spoiled ballot papers – a total of ( ) invalid ballot papers.
  9. Are there any marked ballot papers inside the ballot box which are not detached from the stub? Yes / No if yes, how many ballot papers and for which candidate have they been marked? A. a total of ( ) ballots papers have been marked for ( ) B. a total of ( ) ballot papers have been marked for ( ).
  10. Is there a validation stamp on the back of a ballot paper of a candidate? Yes / No If no, how many ballot papers lack the stamp and for which candidate have they been used? A. a total of ( ) ballot papers have been used for ( ) B. a total of ( ) ballot papers have been used for ( ).
  11. Have the ballot papers been marked according to the procedures? Yes/No If no, how many ballot papers and for which candidate? A. a total of ( ) ballot papers for ( ) B. a total of ( ) for ( ).

5 criteria proposed by the United Nation:

  1. Is similar marking or mode of similar marking seen on the ballot papers? If yes, how many?
  2. Is there evidence of tampering with the result sheet and coherence with the number of ballots in the box? If yes, please explain.
  3. Does the result sheet copy match that processed in the National Tally Center? Yes / No
  4. What is the relevant information in the polling station journal and in the list of voters?
  5. Do the ballot boxes contain results which require special scrutiny according to best international practices (e.g. when there is major difference between the total votes of the first and run-off elections)? If yes, in this case, these ballot boxes must especially be addressed by both national and international observers and agents of candidates.

 

ANNEX 2. IEC decision no. 33-1393 on criteria for recount and nullification of votes in the audit (30 July 2014)

Subject: Criteria for recount and nullification of votes for audit of all run-off election polling station.

Under Article 13 of the Structural Law of the IEC and IECC, the provisions included in Articles 58 and 59 of the Electoral Law and the technical framework agreed on between the run-off election candidates and the United Nation, the IEC decided:

1. Recount of votes should be carried out in the following conditions: 

A. General investigation of electoral materials inside ballot box

  • if the result sheet copy does not exist inside a ballot box or there is evidence of tampering with the result sheet
  • if the total number of ballots recorded on the result form (valid, invalid, spoiled, blank) exceeds 600
  • if there is an obvious discrepancy between the number of ballots recorded on the result sheet copy inside a ballot box and the one obtained from the National Tally Center
  • if the voter list is missing, blank or there are 10 or more ID card number logged sequentially
  • if there is a 50% discrepancy between the number of voters on the result sheet and the number of voters on the list of voters
  • if a ballot box is broken or damaged to the extent that a hand could be placed inside the box or the seals are sufficiently loose that a hand could be placed inside the box
  • if two or more ballot box seals on the side of the box are broken or show obvious signs of tampering; or the serial numbers of two or more of the ballot box seals on the side of the box do not match with the serials numbers recorded on the record of seal forms in the ballot box

B. Visual scan of ballot papers

  • If during visual scan of ballot papers (4 bundles), at least 20 ballot papers are marked similarly or are not marked in accordance with the procedure; ballots of this ballot box should be recounted.

2. Ballots should be nullified in the following conditions:

  • If the marked ballots are not detached from the stub
  • If there are marked ballots without validation stamp
  • If ballots are not marked according to the procedure
  • When there are ballots of a polling center inside a box (ballots of a different polling station in the same polling center put aside and will be recounted for its correct station which causes a recount in both cases)
  • Similarly marked ballots: 15% of all obviously similarly marked ballots per station will be included into the vote count process which will equally include ballots of both candidates. All other obviously similarly marked ballots will be excluded from the count process. This 15% of ballots will not apply to the cases where all votes in an entire box will be excluded from the count process due to the following reasons:

3. Ballot boxes shall be nullified in the following conditions:

  • If a ballot box is not of the same type distributed by the Commission for the run-off election
  • If there is not any ballot paper inside a ballot box or none of the ballots are stamped or all ballots are not marked according the procedure or all ballots are obviously marked similarly or all ballots are not detached from the stub
  • If there are reports in the journal of the polling station about use of force, occurrence of fighting and loss of control of the electoral material from the electoral staff
  • If the list of voters is missing or blank and at least 33 % of all ballots are not stamped or are not marked according to the procedure or obviously marked similarly or not detached from the stub
  • If there are 10 or more VR card numbers logged sequentially on the list of voters and at least 33 % of all the ballots are not stamped or are not marked in accordance with the procedure or are obviously marked similarly or are not detached from the stub
  • If a ballot box is broken or damaged to the extent that a hand could be placed inside the box and there is visual evidence of tampering with the result sheet or ballot bundles
  • If two or more ballot box seals on the side of the box are broken or show obvious signs of tampering or the seals are sufficiently loose that a hand could be placed inside the box and there is visual evidence of tampering with the result sheets or ballot bundles
  • If the serial numbers of two or more ballot box seals on the side of the box do not match with the serial numbers recorded on the record of seal form inside the ballot box and there is visual evidence of tampering with the result sheets or ballot bundles

Missing and damaged ballot boxes

During investigation of ballot boxes that are missing or are broken or damaged due to any other reason, all relevant information in the possession of the IEC and reports or information from other sources will be used.

The IEC decision with regard to the audit process, review of the audit check list, recount or nullification of votes must be made in open meetings in the presence of candidates, agents, and observers in accordance with Article 12 of the Structural Law of the IEC and IECC.

 

ANEX 3. IEC decision no. 37-1393 (16 August 2014)

Subject: Decision-making on audit and recount results of run-off election ballot boxes

The IEC makes its decisions on the results of run-off elections and findings of audit/recount under Article 13 of the Structural Law of the IEC and IECC, Articles 58 and 59 of the Electoral Law and the Afghan Presidential Election Technical Framework agreed on by the two Presidential Run-off Elections candidates with the mediation of the United Nations, and with reference to the following decisions:

  • The IEC Decision No 27 on 100 % audit of run-off election ballot boxes
  • Procedure for audit and recount of run-off election ballots
  • The IEC Decision No 33 on criteria for recount and invalidation of run-off election ballots, and
  • the IEC Audit Procedure Clarification dated 8 August 2014

The Independent Election Commission decided:

A. Audit Database

The National Tally Center should enter the following data into the database:

1. Audit checklist

2. Recount result form

B. Audit Database Reports

In order to enable the IEC commissioners to implement their decision No 33 on recount results, invalidation of votes or exclusion of ballot boxes from count of votes, the National Tally Center provides the following reports based on audit database information:

a) Ballot boxes being recounted:

Under the IEC decision No 33, ballots of a polling station will be recounted in the following cases and the Commission will issue a new decision on its result:

  1. if the result sheet copy does not exist inside a ballot box or there is evidence of tampering with the result sheet
  2. if the total number of ballots recorded on the result form ( valid, invalid, spoiled, blank) exceeds 600
  3. if there is an obvious discrepancy between the number of ballots recorded on the result sheet copy inside a ballot box and the one obtained from the National Tally Center
  4. if the voter list is missing, blank or there are 10 or more ID card number logged sequentially
  5. if there is a 50% discrepancy between the number of voters on the result sheet and the number of voters on the list of voters
  6. if a ballot box is broken or damaged to the extent that a hand could be placed inside the box or the seals are sufficiently loose that a hand could be placed inside the box
  7. if two or more ballot box seals on the side of the box are damaged or broken or show obvious signs of tampering; or the serial numbers of two or more of the ballot box seals on the side of the box do not match with the seal serials numbers recorded on the record of seal form inside the ballot box
  8. If there are at least 20 ballots in one ballot box, which are obviously similarly marked or marked not in accordance with the procedure.

With reference to question no16 of the IEC Audit Checklist, the IEC will approve the recounts of those 6,000 ballot boxes which the two campaign teams have identified for special scrutiny. A separate report shall be generated from the audit database for this category.

b) Boxes Being Invalidated:

In case the following findings are found during the audit, the Independent Election Commission based on its Decision No 33 will invalidate the entire box:

  1. If the ballot box is not of the same type distributed by the Commission for presidential run-off election;
  2. If there are no ballots in the ballot box, or none of the ballots are stamped, or all ballots are not marked in accordance with the procedure, or all ballots are obviously similarly marked, or all ballots are not separated from the stub
  3. If there are reports in the journal of the Station Chairperson in regard to exertion of force, occurrence of fight and loss of control of the electoral material from the electoral staff.
  4. If the list of voters is missing or blank and at least (33%) of the all ballots in the box are not stamped, or are not marked in accordance with procedure, or are obviously similarly marked, or not detached from the stub.
  5. If there are 10 or more voter registration card numbers logged sequentially on the list of voters, and at least 33 % of all the ballots are not stamped, or are not marked in accordance with the procedure, or are obviously similarly marked, or are not detached from the stub.
  6. If the ballot box is broken or damaged to the extent that a hand could be placed inside the box, and there is visual evidence of tampering with the result sheet or bundled ballots
  7. if two or more ballot box seals on the side of the box are broken or show obvious signs of tampering; or the seals are sufficiently loose that a hand could be placed inside the box and there is visual evidence of tampering with the results sheets or bundled ballots.
  8. If the numbers of two or more of the ballot box seals on the sides of the box do not match with the numbers recorded on the record of seals form in the ballot box, and there is visual evidence of tampering with the results sheets or bundled ballots

c) Ordinary boxes with no problems:

Based on the IEC Decision No 33, the IEC shall decide on the results of all other polling stations where it did not find irregularities of the kind outlined in paragraphs 1,2 and 3 of the decision no 33 

d) IEC Decision on Polling Station Results of Run-off Election


a. Decisions


b. The Independent Election Commission will issue decisions in batches and groups with regard to boxes with similar findings. However, the Commission may when deemed necessary, in addition examine individual checklists for further clarification.

The basis for the decisions of the Commission on the results of the audit and recount will be the criteria laid out in IEC Decision no 33 on Recount and Invalidation Criteria, the IEC Audit and Recount Procedure for the 2014 run-off election and the IEC Audit Procedure Clarification dated 8 August 2014.

In each meeting of the Commission, polling stations of different provinces across the country will be processed. The process of choosing polling stations for decision making will be conducted in a balanced manner as for data entry and adjudication purposes, polling stations shall be selected in a way that balance should be considered between the areas supporting for the candidates.

The IEC will publicly announce on its web site 24 hours in advance the polling stations cases which it will be deciding on.

b. Decision-making

Decisions on the results of polling stations will be made in the following instances:

  1. On the ballot boxes, which based on the paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of the IEC Decision No 33, no irregularities were found in them.
  2. On ballot boxes which the audit found evidence for the existence of irregularities and based on Article 3 of the IEC Decision No 33, the result of the entire polling station shall be excluded.
  3. On polling stations where the audit found evidence for the existence of irregularities, and based on Articles 1 and 2 of the IEC Decision No 33, a recount shall be conducted.
  4. On the result of the ballot boxes where a recount has taken place according to the IEC Decision No 33.
  5. On the result of polling stations ballot boxes of which based on the IEC Decision No 33 are lost or due to other reasons are missing or damaged or destroyed.
  6. On polling stations as defined by the IEC which might not fall under any category above.
  7. If there are blanks or incomplete information in the audit checklist, the Commission assumes:
    1.  Where nothing is recorded in the checklist in relation to questions (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14), it is considered normal.
    2. Where the checklist for a certain question contains figures but the yes/no tick box is not filled, the information for yes/no can be obtained from the answers to questions (8, 9, 10, 11, and 12).
    3. Where the yes/no tick box on the checklist is blank, the information (if available) can be taken from the narrative text (Question 13)

The UN will provide advice based on international best practice to the Commission throughout the entirety of the audit process. 

c. Open hearing

Under Article 12 of the Structural Law of the IEC and IECC, the IEC decision shall be taken in open meetings and in the presence of accredited candidate agents, national and international observers and media representatives.

d. Publication of Results

All IEC decisions on polling station results shall be posted on the IEC webpage on a daily basis. The IEC shall clearly mention its decision along with the reasons on each ballot box.

 

ANNEX 4. PRESS STATEMENT: UN Welcomes Afghan electoral authorities’ first decisions on audit (25 August 2014)

KABUL, 25 August 2014 – The United Nations welcomes today’s announcement by Afghan electoral authorities of the first official decisions on the findings from the 100 per cent audit of the Presidential run-off election of 14 June.

“The first set of official decisions from this unprecedented audit is an important milestone towards the goal of separating fraud from valid votes,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš, “However, it is still premature to draw conclusions about the final audit result based on these initial findings. All parties should continue to respect the process so as to not create unrealistic expectations.”

The UN notes that of the 3,644 ballot boxes that were the subject of this first set of decisions, approximately 79 percent of boxes were validated and 21 per cent were found to contain some form of irregularities such as broken seals, results forms that did not reconcile or improperly and similarly marked ballots. The boxes with irregularities included 72 that were completely invalidated today by the Commission and 697 for which the Commission has ordered full recounts. These 697 recounts have already been physically carried out and can lead to partial or complete invalidations of boxes. The results of these recounts will now be decided upon by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in its upcoming sessions over the next few days.

Today’s findings originate from information taken from each audited ballot box that is recorded and then entered into the database in the presence of observers and party agents. None of the 6,000 ballot boxes identified by the Presidential candidates as requiring so-called ‘special scrutiny’ were part of today’s first adjudication decisions.

“All parties will be better able to make assessments on the results in days ahead as the IEC releases its further decisions, including the results of the recounts ordered today and the 6,000 ballot boxes identified for special scrutiny by the candidates themselves,” said Mr. Kubiš.

More than 70 percent of 22,828 ballot boxes have now been audited under the UN-supervised process. Of the over 15,000 boxes processed to date, over 30 percent have also been provisionally recounted due to a finding of some irregularity in the physical audit. It is therefore expected that future sets of decisions by the IEC will include higher proportions of recounts as compared to today’s first batch.

The IEC intends to release regular batches of findings as they become available in coming days in parallel to the conclusion of the physical audit of the remaining approximately 7,000 ballot boxes.

In view of the unique and important role played by the two presidential campaigns, including their full access to the audit and genuine joint oversight over how it is designed and conducted, the UN continues to urge them to take every step to assist with the acceleration of the audit in order for it to be concluded at the earliest time.

 

ANNEX 5. PRESS STATEMENT: UN highlights consultative nature of election audit (26 August 2014)

KABUL, 26 August 2014 – The United Nations today highlighted the exceptional levels of consultation and joint oversight of the Presidential elections audit, which is now more than three-quarters complete.

“The 12 July Agreement reached between Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani required that the two campaigns have joint oversight of the audit,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš, “It is highly unusual for the parties in an electoral contest to be given such prominence in designing the procedures to audit its results or to have such a hands-on role in the actual physical auditing.”

These unusual measures were agreed to help restore confidence in the electoral process following the impasse that emerged after the announcement of preliminary results on 7 July.

The two most important procedures for the conduct of the audit are the audit checklist and the invalidation and recount criteria. Both of these documents were proposed by the UN following significant consultation with the two technical teams. As previously noted, since 12 July the UN leadership has held more than 30 meetings with the two presidential candidates to discuss the audit, as well as daily meetings with both teams at the technical level.

The audit checklist was one result of the 12 July negotiations between Dr. Abdullah and Dr. Ghani and is included in the actual text of the technical framework agreement.

The invalidation and recount criteria were proposed by the United Nations on 24 July after ten days of extensive consultation between the two campaigns and substantial incorporation of their views in the final proposal. While neither campaign fully agreed to the proposal, as noted in the UN press release on 26 July, the two candidates initially informed the United Nations that they accepted these criteria as a basis to move forward. Subsequent to this, the Reform and Partnership campaign raised five concerns with the criteria. After several days of additional consultations, three of these concerns were withdrawn while the remaining two became the basis for the Reform and Partnership team selecting a list of 3,000 ballot boxes for special scrutiny. In their signed joint communique of 8 August, the two campaigns ultimately agreed to “practically move the audit process forward based on the United Nations criteria including audit, recount, and invalidation.”

In addition, the United Nations has stated on several occasions that as new information is learnt during the course of the audit it will as necessary make recommendations to refine and update relevant procedures. It has done so in response to the following issues raised by the Reform and Partnership team:

  • Incorporated the Reform and Partnership team’s views into the design of the special scrutiny process (namely that all special scrutiny boxes shall receive automatic recounts);
  • Clarified that a ballot box can contain more than one pattern of similarly marked ballots and tightened the definition of the minimum number of similarly marked ballots which constitute a pattern from twenty ballots down to ten ballots;
  • Retrained its advisors on the identification of similarly marked ballots as new types of patterns of similar markings emerged during the audit process;
  • Expanded the definition of what constitutes an improbable sequence of Voter ID numbers in the voter log for purposes of recounts and invalidations to include repeated Voter ID numbers, sequences with skips and other forms of sequences;
  • Supported the Reform and Partnership team’s proposal that IEC provincial staff should not be involved in the audit of boxes from their own province;
  • Addressed the Reform and Partnership team’s concern that polling stations that were closed during the run-off might have been included in the results and audits; and
  • Considered the Reform and Partnership team’s proposal that ballots without a fold mark should be invalidated as an indicator, but did not ultimately support this proposal because the run-off ballots are small enough to fit into the ballot box slot without being folded and because the approved method of storing ballots in rolled bundles in the box result in their fold marks being smoothed out.

Presently, the United Nations is reviewing a new issue raised by the Reform and Partnership Team related to possible similar handwriting across multiple results forms. It, however, only received sample evidence on this issue from the Reform and Partnership team this afternoon.

In addition to the genuine say over how the audit has been designed, the United Nations and Independent Election Commission (IEC) have given the two campaigns effective co-responsibility in the conduct of the actual audit. In a normal audit both the observers and the candidate agents are physically separate from the audit tables and not allowed to handle any of the ballots or other sensitive materials. During this audit, the two agent teams and IEC staff jointly conduct the audit with campaign teams even themselves directing the placement of ballots into patterns of similar markings prior to technical review and dispute resolution by UN advisors.

The United Nations will continue to work with both campaigns to address any concerns they have which contribute to addressing the audit’s primary purpose of separating fraudulent ballots from valid votes. This would include any new issues arising from the first announcement of audit findings by the IEC on 25 August, which were only a first batch of decisions and should not necessarily be considered as representative of the audit’s final result.

The UN notes, that on both 12 July and 8 August the candidates already explicitly committed to accepting the result of the audit. Should one campaign choose not to participate in the conclusion of the enormous exercise which they requested, the United Nations and the domestic and international observers will increase their participation so as to ensure the continuing credibility of the process.

 

ANNEX 6. PRESS STATEMENT: UN continues to respond to candidates’ technical concerns on audit (1 September 2014)

KABUL, 1 September 2014 – Even as the comprehensive audit of the presidential run-off approaches completion, the United Nations is continuing to respond to new technical issues and concerns when raised by the presidential campaigns. This is part of its previously stated commitment to work with both campaigns to respond to any issues which would further the overall objective of the audit to separate fraudulent ballots from valid votes.

Recently, on 23 August, the Reform and Partnership Team raised claims of similar handwriting being found across multiple results sheets. If supported by evidence, the existence of similar signatures on results sheets from different geographic locations would require a thorough investigation and robust response. At this point however the UN would caution against making predictions about the possible impact of these claims before a proper inquiry has been carried out.

In order to enable such an inquiry, the UN requested the Reform and Partnership Campaign to provide it with supporting evidence for their claims, as well as a letter formally requesting this issue to be brought to the attention of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

On 28 August the Reform and Partnership Campaign provided the UN with printed copies of the results sheets from the approximately 2,200 polling stations it claims display similar handwriting. Although a letter asking the UN to formally bring these claims to the attention of the IEC was only received yesterday, the UN has already introduced the issue to the IEC.

Prior to receiving this documentation, the UN established a dedicated seven-person team from among the electoral experts participating in the audit. The team conducted research to ascertain whether the issue of similar handwriting across multiple results sheets has been raised in any other countries’ elections and, to date, has only identified one case. The expert team also prepared a draft proposal with investigation procedures and invalidation criteria for handling these claims that was shared with the IEC Secretariat on 31 August.

The UN has meanwhile informed the Continuity and Change Campaign of existence of claims of similar handwriting across multiple results forms so that it has the opportunity to respond accordingly.

Tags:

IEC UNAMA Ashraf Ghani UN audit count criteria invalidation special audit

Authors:

Martine van Bijlert

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