Fake voter registration cards printed in Peshawar
TOLO News in Kabul is reporting that large numbers of voting cards for the 18 September Parliamentary elections in Afghanistan are being forged in Peshawar in neighbouring Pakistan.
An employee of the press that printed the forged cards told TOLO News about the scandal.
TOLO News quoted an official from the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan who said that they had informed the security forces about the forgeries. "IEC can distinguish between the forged voting cards and the real ones, since the papers we use are different," said Noor Mohammad Noor, the IEC spokesman. The spokesman added that 3,000 of the forged voting cards had been seized in Ghazni. Earlier today the IEC held a press conference where the issue was discussed extensively. You can find a verbatim report of the event here.
According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the owner of one printing house in Peshawar, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the printing of fake voter registration cards had been going on since the start of the electoral campaign in Afghanistan on 25 June. They quoted a printshop owner as saying "Each individual candidate who has referred to us has asked us to publish around 60,000 papers. We have not set a fixed fee for the publishing work. We have charged them between 200 to 300 rupees per ballot".
Already there are serious questions about the legitimacy and security of the ballot, with at least 938 polling stations covering 14 per cent of the electorate not opening due to security concerns. It should be remembered, however, that another5,897 will remain open. More than 2,000 candidates are vying for 249 seats in the lower house of parliament, the Wolesi Jirga. The Taliban has threatened to cut the fingers off of anyone who votes. They say they will be able to identify voters by the dye on their fingers.
Ironically, the IEC demonstrated a new Danish ink today, containing 25 per cent silver nitrate, that it insists cannot be removed. "If we increase it over 25 per cent it would harm the skin and the Ministry of Public Health would not allow us to do so," said IEC head Dr Fazal Ahmad Manawi.
Whether or not the election goes ahead there are likely to be serious doubts about the outcome, both in terms of fraud and participation.