blogenlust
9.03.2004

Voter Fraud in Afghanistan


AmericaBlog points out that Bush has recently been promoting voter fraud, when he talks about the number of registered voters in Afghanistan:
"In Afghanistan, terrorists have done everything they can to intimidate people - yet more than 10 million citizens have registered to vote in the October presidential election-a resounding endorsement of democracy."
According to the UN, though, there are only 9.8 million eligible voters in the entire country.
On 17 August, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan reported to the Security Council that the high rate of voter registration - more than 9.9m already enrolled - showed the political isolation of groups responsible for violence. What he did not mention was that the number registered already exceeds the estimated total of eligible voters for the whole country. Originally UN officials estimated there were 9.8m eligible adults, and as the percentage registered climbed ever higher, the Afghan government and US leaders loudly praised this as an achievement for democracy. When the total reached 9.9m UN officials in Kabul hastily upped the estimated total of voters to 10.5 million, arguing that, with no accurate census, the original figure could be up to a million out - due to the effects of war, civil strife and mass migration. But the figure is still increasing. UN Kabul spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva, said on 23 August that the total after registration was more than 10.35m, and data was expected to continue arriving for at least a couple of weeks. Only a little arithmetic shows the figures are dubious. Only 42% of those registered are women. That means some 750,000 women are not registered. The shortfall of women means the only way the 10m-plus figure for registered voters can be accurate is if every single male in the country has registered - at least once. And that ignores an estimated one third of a million unregistered people in conflict-ridden parts of the south and south-east of Afghanistan. So it is painfully evident that the registration process has been seriously flawed.
Matthew Yglesias opines, "What we're seeing isn't an unprecedented outpouring of democratic enthusiasm, it's massive fraud." I highly doubt (cough) that Bush would lie about this (cough).