Ahmed Zia proudly recalled how he voted in the Afghan presidential election on April 5, for the first time in his 18 years.
Then he voted for the second time, a little later that day, casting an illegal additional ballot in the same box. “I was worried that my candidate wouldn’t win,” he said, “because of all the fraud and corruption.”
Electoral fraud is the shadow hanging stubbornly over Afghanistan’s elections, the first in the country’s modern history that have the promise to usher in a peaceful change of leadership. President Hamid Karzai is stepping down after 12 years in power, constitutionally unable to run again.
On Thursday, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission issued more partial results, again showing a comfortable lead for Abdullah Abdullah, the runner-up in the 2009 presidential election, but also making it all but certain that he will not win the 50 percent of votes necessary to avoid a runoff election in late May or June.