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On September 28, 2019, presidential elections took place in Afghanistan for the fourth time since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001. Nearly two months later, the results of the elections are yet to be released. Voter turnout during this year’s presidential election reached its lowest point in the country’s democratic history, raising concerns over whether the results could be seen as a comprehensive representation of the interests of the Afghan people. More concerningly, it raised questions of whether the Afghan people have lost faith in the effectiveness of democracy and the legitimacy of the decisions made through democratic processes.
Afghan election workers check ballot papers of September’s presidential election during the recounting process of ballot papers at Independent Election Commission counting center, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. Polling was held on Sept. 28, but the announcement of results repeatedly postponed after accusations of misconduct and technical issues with counting ballots.
Out of an estimated total population of 35 million people (an uncertain figure due to the lack of reliable census data), approximately 9.6 million people (one-third being women) were registered to vote in Afghanistan during the most recent elections. Initial results suggested that voter turnout was historically low, with only between 20 and 25 percent of registered voters taking part. According to Dermalof, (the German company tasked with assisting the Afghan government in its use of electronic voting systems and biometric voter registration — a tall order), out of the 1,929,333 votes transferred to the IEC’s central database, 1,843,107 votes were determined to be valid.
On November 2, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced that votes would be recounted in all of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces by November 14. As the November 14 deadline came and went, another postponement of the results was announced, this time with no new target date set. The indefinite wait will only further inflame tensions.
Initially, the results of the elections were due on October 19.