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Election commissions at loggerheads over ballot recount

Tensions are mounting between Afghanistan’s two election commissions over the complaints tribunal’s decision to recount ballots from 2,555 polling stations after a sweeping audit, further ratcheting up the post-election turmoil.

The independent election commission and the complaints commission remain at an impasse over whether to conduct a recount on constituencies where vote rigging is suspected.

The complaints commission has found discrepancies in the output of 2,555 polling stations in 20 provinces and ruled a second tally. The decision comes following a meticulous audit of thousands of stations in 28 provinces. According to the panel, adjudication of complaints will end in few days.

But the independent election commission rebuked the decision, saying there should be substantial evidence to prove any discrepancy and suspicion in ballots. An official from the commission, Habibur Rahman Nang, however said the complaints commission had been asked to provide a comprehensive plan of recount last week, but no official plan has been put forward so far.

Afghanistan’s tight presidential race is increasingly likely to go to a runoff vote amid thousands of complaints challenging the initial returns that indicated the incumbent president Ashraf Ghani had won the office, according to complaints election authorities.

Possibility of an election runoff for the two frontrunners arises as the leading candidate Ghani is just a few thousands votes higher than the threshold 50% and complaints of fraud could reduce the votes tallied.

The high-stakes 2019 elections of Afghanistan resembles 2014 voting when Ghani and Abdullah had alleged massive vote rigging against each other. The dispute lingered on for months till the U.S. intervened and formed a unity government with Ghani as the president and Abdullah as the chief executive.

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