AFGHANISTAN YOUTH NATIONAL AND SOCIAL ORGANIZATION (AYNSO)
ELECTION DAY (Runoff) OBSERVATION PRELIMINARY STATEMENT
14th June, 2014
- Introduction overview:
AYNSO is honored to offer this preliminary statement for Afghanistan runoff/second round presidential election, June 14th polls. This statement illustrates the AYNSO observation pattern, overview, and key findings on elections’ irregularities and violations in 614 polling stations observed by AYNSO’s observers in Herat, Nimroz, Farah, Badghis and Ghor provinces. AYNSO deployed 350 experienced and trained observers who had observed the first round of election too. On Election Day, 350 observers observed the three stages of election-day processes including poll opening, voting, and closing/counting. During campaigning, five Provincial Coordinators held regular meetings with political parties, offices of presidential candidates, civil society, election commissions and presented major patterns of irregularities, violations, and misuses of government facilities. Plus, 10 call center callers in Kabul office were assigned to collect update information of runoff Election Day from 614 polling stations in five provinces of western region. The call center in Kabul collected update information on irregularities, fraud and violations on Election Day, and coordinated emergency observation cases with relevant authorities, IEC and IECC. Details of such practices will be disseminated with Independent Elections Complaints Commission and Independent Elections Commission to undertake steps and further investigate the irregularities to declare the election results transparent and acceptable to the people as well as candidates. Generally, our observation shows less voter turn-out compare to the first round.
- Campaigning Observation Findings:
AYNSO deployed five Provincial Coordinators to observe political campaigning between the two top presidential candidates in the five western region provinces. According to AYNSO’s PCs finding, the political campaigning this time, compare to the first round was very peaceful and transparent. However, both the candidates somehow used violated words against each other but generally no serious action was taken to hurt each other. The two candidates and their supporters organized small and big events and gatherings in the centers of the provinces but their followers had supporting movements and activities in the rural areas. As observed, women participation to these gatherings was significant which represent their interest in active participation in the second round of election.
One candidate was blaming another party for receiving government’s support during campaigning but our observation did not evident such cases. The local Media gave equal chance to both the candidates to broadcast their plans and campaigning activities. Security measurements were very well arranged by the security forces and a peaceful environment was provided to the candidates and their followers to conduct their events and campaign related activities peacefully. No serious security threat occurred during the campaigning period.
- Election Day Findings:
As planned, 350 AYNSO deployed observers monitored the election in three stages (opening of Polling Stations, During Voting, and Closing of the Polling Stations and Counting). AYNSO observers observed the Election Day in the mentioned three stages based on the checklists that were provided to them and recorded their findings accordingly. AYNSO findings in each stage are as follows:
- Polling Centers Opening:
According to observers’ findings, 95% of 350 polling stations were opened on time and just a couple of them opened with an hours delay from the scheduled time. This delay was due to late presence of IEC officials to the polling centers and the preparation of election materials. As in the first round, a lot of people were staying in line to cast their votes. There were number of polling centers which were not opened due to security threats; like the polling centers in Khashroad and Delaram districts of Nimroz province, and some opened with delay; like 3 polling stations of Masjid Jami Khairullah of Dawlatyar district of Ghor province due to security threats. Total 350 polling stations were observed during opening.
Prior to opening of the polling stations, people were stood in lines. They were found with a patience and commitment to cast their votes and select their favorite leader. This time, IEC officials better performed to manage their activities and overcome challenges. During the voting, few incidents happened that resulted to closure of the polling centers. However, some of them with some hours delay either started their activity in that polling center or changed their locations or continued their operation. Women’s participation to the election was visible and as per AYNSO observation, approximately 30-40% eligible women voter participated. Fortunately, our call center gathered information from election day illustrate that female polling centers were out of more secure, arranged well, and with no fraud. 614 polling stations were observed during voting.
- Polling Centers Closing:
In general, all the polling centers closed on due time 4:00 pm Thus, the AYNSO observer’s findings show that 18 polling stations, only in certain areas of Ghor province, out of total 350 PS were closed before the due time for the reason of lack of voters. Rests of the polling stations, despite lack of voters, were opened until the due time, 4 pm.
- Observers, candidate’s agents and Media presence on Election Day
According to our observers’ findings, candidates’ agents in all 350 polling stations, observed by AYNSO observers were present. In 90% of the total 350 polling stations, other organization’s observers were also present but Media was present only in certain urban areas.
- Lack of ballot papers:
This time, our findings show that only 3 or 4 polling stations faced lack of ballot papers but they received in one or two hours. This can be due to less participation of voters, compare to the first round.
- Ballot boxes and codes visibility:
In 4% of total 614 polling stations, the ballot boxes were not visible for the observers to monitor and track the codes of the boxes. Out of 4%, 2% were found in Herat, 1% each in Ghor and Badghis provinces.
- Observers’ permission and interruptions:
In general, AYNSO observers did not face with such cases to be prevented either by security forces or any other resources from observing election. Only in certain polling stations of Badghis province, they were not allowed to observe but in consultation with higher officials in the center of the province, the problem was solved and the observers normally monitored the election.
- Ink Quality:
The quality of ink generally polling was good but we received reports regarding the poor quality of ink that removable. However, in 70% of the total 614 polling stations, invisible ink and light was not used and did not exist; these polling stations were mostly in Herat and Farah provinces.
- Underage Voting:
Only in 2% of the total 107 polling stations in Badghis and Nimroz provinces, AYNSO observers evidenced under age voting. Despite the voters looked underage but they had voting cards and they were given a chance by IEC officials to cast their votes.
- Proxy Voting:
According to AYNSO observers’ findings, in number of the polling stations of Badghis province women used voting cards with no picture which were not known if those were their own cards or not. IEC officials also did not check for any other documents to prove it.
- IECC complaint papers un-availability
This time, the complaint papers were available in each one of 350 polling stations.
- Counting in polling stations:
Counting process started right after the polling stations were closed in presence of candidates’ agents and observers in a transparent way. At the end of the counting, each of candidate’s agents was provided with copy of result sheet.
- Security on Election Day:
Security situation was found bad mostly in rural polling stations, and it was in a form of threats and fears among the citizens especially in women and girls. However, this situation did not affect polling negatively. According to observations, 95% of the polling stations were safe and without facing any security threats. However, our call center founding shows that this time head of qawms, power holders, commanders in some rural areas interrupted and tried to influence the voting process.
- IEC or overall Afghan government should take measurements for better check of voting cards. One of the major problems was absence of pictures in the voting cards, especially among female voters. Unfortunately, there were no clear measurement in polling centers to determine if the card is belong to that specific person. Therefore, either the cards should have the pictures or government should start distribution of electronic identification cards for the citizens.
- Some polling stations and polling centers were closed before planned time. Their reason was lack or absence of voters in the line. AYNSO believes that they should wait till that time because people are already informed that it will be active till 4:00pm. So, due to hot weather or working in their fields they may come during that time. Even if there is one or two voter, there chance should be taken from them.
- Security offices and IEC officials should remain impartial and coordinate with the observers well. Good coordination will create a friendly environment that result to a better observation of the polling centers.
- Essential materials should be checked before transportation to the polling centers. IECs need to manage a recheck process to make sure all polling centers are provided with election materials. Most of the polling center in five provinces and almost all of polling centers in Farah and Herat didn’t have invisible ink and light. Also, some of the polling station’s visible ink was not with a good quality, it could be washed and cleaned.
- IEC should conduct its actions especially the counting process in the presence of candidate’s observers to prevent problems in the process. If candidates are not informed or their observers are not present then it will create problems in the acceptance of election result.
- IEC should not hire the officials once they are caught with fraud. Their names should be publicly announced and their cases should be processed based on the law. Lack of punishment for corrupted official creates incentive for other IEC officials to get involve in fraud without any fear. Also, it questions the transparency, independency, and impartiality of the IEC.
- IEC should have close coordination with the
- Methods and Data collection Plan:
AYNSO is one of leading agency in conducting election observations. In presidential elections 2014, AYNSO deployed 350 observers’ plus 10 call center members for observation in five provinces. Five provincial coordinators collected information about campaigns and pre-political environment. The election-day observers deployed in 614 polling stations and reported the incidents, violations and irregularities through checklists and incident forms. The call center members regularly made calls to the observers on Election Day and filled the online forms from the provided information about each polling station. The checklists and incident forms were analyzed and inserted into the database, and under detail comprehension for developing reports and recommendations.
- AYNSO in a glance:
AYNSO is a non-profit, non-governmental organization aims to support youth to experience real democracy nationwide. AYNSO strengthens and advances democracy nationwide through playing integral role in elections monitoring and youth democratic networking. AYNSO monitored the elections of 2009, 2010 and 2014 throughout Afghanistan and deployed 2200 trained domestic observers. In during observation, AYNSO coordinated with 212 local CSOs, networks and government departments and brought issues centered findings for the greater audience and authorities. AYNSO has successfully implemented dozens projects in sectors of civic education, good governance, elections monitoring and youth political networking in seven regions of Afghanistan; and stationed with 45000 youth volunteers’ network in 34 provinces and finding out solutions for youth political, democratic and social issues under youth national policy frameworks.
This mission is made possible through a grant funded by the National Democratic Institute (NDI).