UNDP supports Afghan election audit
Kabul, Afghanistan – The audit of nearly 23,000 ballot boxes from the recent, 14 June, run-off election for the Afghan Presidency continues apace. It is being conducted at the Independent Election Commission (IEC) compound in Kabul. The technical framework agreed to by both candidates, Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, was developed by the United Nations and brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry on 12 July.
A full audit of all ballot boxes was launched following allegations of fraud from both sides during the election. The audit process is a thorough and necessary step that contributes to the resolution of which candidate was chosen by the Afghan people to be their next leader.
It will represent the first peaceful transition of power via democratic means in Afghanistan’s history. A final resolution of audit findings, as well as adjudication of electoral complaints by the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC), is expected in the coming weeks.
UNDP electoral advisors from all over the world, led by colleagues from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), are supervising the audit process that is being carried out by the IEC in the presence of the candidates’ representatives.
This is the largest audit process ever assisted by the UN, and UNDP advisors have also been given a stronger supervisory mandate compared to other UNDP electoral assistance projects. In about 60 countries per year where UNDP assists national electoral processes, the focus is primarily on providing capacity-building support to national electoral management bodies and other stakeholders.
At the centre of this audit process is the completion of an audit checklist by IEC personnel. The checklist addresses issues that include the tampering of a ballot box, and that result sheets inside the ballot box matches the results recording for that polling location, compared to the set of preliminary results announced by the IEC on 7 July.
The audit also involves a full recount of “special cases,” where ballot boxes registered so called extraordinary occurrences, such as a major difference in the number of ballots cast in the first and second rounds, or an exceptionally high number of voters in comparison with the estimated number of eligible voters.
There is special focus on checking for noticeable patterns of what are known as “similarly-marked ballots.” UNDP advisors, as part of their supervisory mandate, issue recommendations to the IEC Commissioners on this as well as other matters in instances where representatives of both candidates and IEC personnel are not in agreement.
UNDP’s ELECT II project, supporting the Afghan electoral process and primarily the two institutions – the IEC and the IECC – will continue into 2015. It will, once again, provide significant technical, logistical and financial support to the 2015 election of the Wolesa Jirga (the lower house of parliament) with funding from several international partners. UNDP has been supporting the electoral process in Afghanistan since 2003.