The Independent Election Commission (IEC) failed to hold a transparent election despite it being repeatedly delayed on the pretext of ensuring transparency in the poll. The recent parliamentary election was marred by technical glitches and allegations of fraud, similar to those of the past. Some candidates allege that the biometric system has not been used in some polling centers, thereby leading to widespread electoral fraud. Now that IEC has failed to properly use its biometric system on the day of election, they demand that it nullify all votes cast without being recorded on the biometric system in order to ensure a relative transparency.
To meet the demand, the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) has decided to invalidate the votes not registered on the biometric system. The IECC stresses that all ballot boxes stuffed without the IEC-issued voters list and biometric registration are invalid. The commission has also stated that it has formed working groups to timely assess approximately 10,000 complaints it has received.
The annulment of votes without biometric registration is an important step towards bringing transparency to the long-delayed Wolesi Jirga polls. The operations team of the Independent Election Commission should have tested the biometric system at each polling center ahead of the election to make sure it works, but now that the election is over, and the biometric technology glitch has brought the legitimacy of the democratic process under question, the IEC better respect and uphold the decision of IECC with regard to the nullification of votes unrecorded on the biometric system. If votes with or without biometric registration are counted equally, it will definitely question the philosophy of using the technology. If IEC makes no distinction between the two categories of votes, why did it spend a colossal amount of money on the acquisition and use of the biometric system?
All electoral stakeholders, including civil society organizations, candidates who respect the will of people, and the international community, must assist the election commissions in identifying and invaliding votes cast without biometric registration, something that will increase the legitimacy of the election results on the one hand, and send a clear message to the hopefuls of future elections on the other hand that it is possible to prevent electoral fraud if there is a political will. Let’s also not forget that the invalidation of such votes alone cannot address all other issues. The Independent Electoral Complaints Commission ought to address all documented complaints thoroughly and opportunely.
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