The study of the provincial council results was initially prompted by a series of phone calls from Nimruz by unsuccessful candidates and upset voters. Their complaints focused on a handful of candidates who had provisionally won the provincial elections and who were considered unsuited for the task – a big smuggler, a person with no influence (“he has only three families in the whole province”) – and were alleged to have defrauded the local election.
So I decided to have a look at the results, to see what these would tell me. They were less easy to read than the Kabul results (seetoday’s earlier blog). There were some obviously implausible results, but most polling centres had a considerable spread of votes – although the total number of votes in the larger polling centres did seem a bit high. It was only when I started comparing the Presidential and provincial council results that the dominant pattern of the province emerged.
The total number of votes cast in Nimruz in the Presidential elections was 56,806 while in the provincial council elections only 31,659 votes were cast. That is an amazing 25,000 additional votes, suggesting either some very busy Presidential ballot-stuffers or a fairly consistent manipulation of the figures after polling.
The discrepancies are staggering, with the vast majority of the polling centres showing Presidential vote figures that are two- to fourfold more than the provincial council results. In some cases the differences are even bigger, for instance in Kang district: polling centres 2602014 (respectively 425 to 2,411 votes), 2602016 (respectively 638 to 3,146 votes) and 2602013 (187 to 986 votes); Charborjak district: 2603022 (84 to 522 votes) and 2603023 (172 to 924 votes); Chekhansur district: polling centres 2604031 (158 to 1,154 votes), 2604036 (179 to 700 votes) and 2604038 (353 to 2,024 votes); and even in the capital Zaranj: 20601006 (1,666 to 4,549 votes).
There were only nine polling centres in the whole province (out of 43) in which the number of votes cast in both elections were similar (four in Zaranj, one in Kang, two in Charborjak, one in Kashrud and one in Delaram). In most cases these were also exactly the polling centres that I had marked for suspicious vote patterns in the provincial council results. So rather than suggesting that no fraud took place in these centres, the results actually indicate that obvious fraud took place here in both elections (whereas in most polling centres in Nimruz the priority seems to have been the manipulation of the Presidential vote). There was one polling centre where the number of provincial council votes far exceeded the Presidential votes (2604029 in Kang) with 1,020 to 428 votes.
Khashrud district, which is largely out of government control, had two polling centres. In centre 2605046 candidates 14 and 30 got most of the votes (707 out of 769), while in 2605044 the votes were more or less evenly divided between candidates 14, 22 and 25 (322 out of 324: respectively 107, 100 and 115). In Chekhansur district in 2604038 347 out of 353 votes went to candidates 22 and 25 (respectively 291 and 56); in 2604030 320 out of 338 votes went to candidates 3 and 5 (respectively 286 and 34); in 2604037 326 out of 409 votes went to candidate 3; and in 2604029 candidate 22 received 608 out of 1020 votes in three neat batches of 201, 205 and 202. In Delaram, which is largely out of government control, in polling centre 2606048 there were high votes for candidates 24 (267), 14 (166), 3 (49) and 5 (44) in one of the polling stations (out of a total of 624) with low votes in all the others. And so on, and so on.
The callers from Nimruz were suggesting that much of the fraud had taken place at the tally centre, and that votes had been moved from one candidate to the other. If this is the case (and I am inclined to think that it may well be, see also the previous blog) it was probably done in an incremental way, just enough to ensure the desired results while avoiding the obvious large round numbers associated with enthusiastic ballot stuffing.
There were also other colourful allegations that cannot be confirmed by staring at figures; for instance that candidate 10 had distributed 4,000 fake voter cards which were printed in Iran (on thinner paper and with incorrect colouring, some of which were confiscated) and that on election day she had been the third female candidate in terms of votes, whereas now she is second on the list (which gives her a seat in the council); that candidate 22 had initially complained to the provincial ECC that he should have 850 votes instead of 820 – whereas he is now listed on the internet as having 2,879 votes; that supporters from candidate 3 took the ballot boxes away when there was a rocket attack in Chekhansur and replaced the votes for other candidates with votes for him (he did get a lot of votes there); and so on and so on.
Let’s see what the ECC makes of Nimruz.
Oh and there is one other issue: the provisionally elected candidates. There is something wrong with the last candidate on the list. The Nimruz provincial council has seven male and two female members. The two highest female candidates took the fifth and the eighth place, so the ninth place on the list should be given to the seventh highest male candidate according to the results by leading candidates (which is candidate 13). Earlier this week the place was instead given to the ninth male candidate on the list (candidate 24), whereas today the fifteenth male candidate (candidate 31) was listed as provisionally elected. How does that happen?
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020