IEC, ECC begin audit in Afghan Presidential Election
KABUL - The auditing of 358 suspicious ballot boxes from Afghanistan’s 20 August presidential elections began today.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC), with oversight by the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), started examining the ballot boxes at its headquarters in Kabul.
The process, which is expected to last for at least four days, is taking place in the presence of several independent observers and representatives and agents of candidates.
Originally, the ECC had announced the need to have a closer look at 313 ballot boxes that roughly constitute 10 per cent of the 3,063 ballot boxes that the body ordered as suspicious in early September.
However, an administrative error resulted in the removal of 39 boxes from the 313 by the ECC and then a further addition of 84 boxes was made to ensure the sample was statistically accurate.
"An error was found, but this has been corrected. We’re now adding a proper number of boxes that we have agreed upon. Over the next few days, these additional 84 boxes will arrive in Kabul," said ECC Chairman Grant Kippen.
Earlier last week, ballot boxes began arriving in Kabul from across the country.
According to Mr Kippen, ECC officials were also present at the provincial warehouses, when these ballot boxes were removed and brought to Kabul.
On 24 September, IEC and ECC officials agreed upon auditing a sample of these fraud-prone ballots that were randomly picked in the presence of UNAMA head Kai Eide, representatives of candidates, and international and national election-monitoring groups. The sample, once audited, will be extrapolated to the entire group.
A joint press statement by the IEC and ECC earlier stated that "the sampling and audit processes will be conducted on the basis of established statistical methods. In compliance with procedures...the IEC will retrieve and examine the sample ballot boxes and will present the findings to the ECC upon completion."
The final result, however, will not just depend on this audit process. The ECC is concurrently reviewing other complaints received after the elections.
Based on the results of these complaints and the audit, votes will be re-adjusted for the candidates, which will then determine if the current front-runner, President Hamid Karzai, who leads with about 54.5 per cent of vote, will have enough votes to be elected as President, or whether a run-off will take place.
Meantime, IEC spokesperson, Noor Mohammad Noor, told UNAMA that preparations are underway, if a run-off is required.
By Aditya Mehta, UNAMA
Website: Electoral Complaints Commission