Transparent Election foundation of Afghanistan as the most prominent domestic oversight body, commenced its observation from the 2019 Presidential election in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan-in accordance with the international election standards, interventions and agreement by deploying 5,200 trained and non-partisan observers across the country.
During the voting phase, TEFA’s call center agents managed to place enough phone calls with TEFA’s field observers across the country and assembled new and real-time information about the voting process which are presented as follows:
• Voters’ lists have been struck by a tremendous level of challenges so far among which the following issues are pre-dominantly dramatic and much more serious:
o The voters’ lists were not well-prepared in most centers as they did not contain names of those voters who were registered with that very PC.
o Biometric devices denied access to a certain number of voters especially to those who had polled in the 2018 Parliamentary elections, implying that the biometric devices’ memory chips have not been entirely erased.
o Misplacement of voter lists.
o Absence of some voters’ names in the voter list including both digital and printed lists, and on top of it, some of the polling stations did not even receive any voter list at all.
• Despite the partially secure polling environment, voters’ turnout have reportedly been poor to the optimum in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan.
• Reports have shown that biometric devices in 8 provinces of Afghanistan could not function properly. Some ran out of charge, and the power banks did not work either. In exactly 109 polling stations, these biometric devices have been seen to malfunction and print voters’ lists in wrong orders, female polling stations were given the male voters’ list and vice versa, and around 11:00-12:00am, in 73 polling stations biometric devices went down and could not function any further or have either functioned very slowly, and apparently, that one extra device in each center could not address the needs of all stations simultaneously.
• In 24% of the overall polling stations, IEC’s biometric unit were not well-familiar with how the devices are operated.
• Underage recruitments has also been a serious issue in IEC’s provincial offices in Jawzjaan, Khost, Paktia, Ghor, Farah, Nimroz, and Zabul.
• IEC has failed in providing sufficient sensitive and insensitive material; to exemplify it, in Malestaan district of Ghazni a polling center with 3,000 registered voters has been provided with only 200 ballot papers; the same applies to Kabul, district 13, where a polling center (Mohammad Taqi) of 3,500 voters was supplied with only 1340 ballot paper which is a serious discrepancy to contemplate over.
• Taking pictures of female voters has not been a mandatory principle in a certain number of Polling stations, where women have casted their ballots without going through this formality; and on the hand, there have been PCs where women have retaliated to being photographed and thus have refrained from casting their ballots.
• Election ink in a certain number of provinces including Kabul, Ghazni, Ghor, and Sar-e-Pol were not indelible and faded away quite easily.
• Security conditions at the central city of Maidan Wardak province have turned extremely violent with rockets being launched and gun-fires being shot incessantly all over the place, leaving polling centers closed across the province.
• Security threads began to intensify with a rapid rate at the early stages of the today’s polling e.g. at Bozkashi arena of Kunduz province a suicide bomb hindered the voting process, in Korak Uzbekia district of Sar-e-Pol province Taliban went ahead with heavy gun-fires pushing voters to retreat and be scattered, Taliban attacked one of the polling centers (Sultani High School) in Paktika leaving one infant killed, heavy gun-fires have been witnessed and heard in Helmand province, suicide bomb incurred in district 2 of Kandahar province, and Kabul has also been victimized with suicide bombs and magnetic IEDs.
TEFA’s observation findings from the 2019 voting phase