Irregularities mar voter registration process: FEFA
KABUL (PAN): The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) on Wednesday said its findings showed insecurity, fraud and violations of the registration procedure marred the first phase of the voter registration campaign.
The foundation said its observers found most documents of applicants were accepted without proper checking at voter registration centers, calling the lack of scrutiny one of the major violations frequently seen.
In a statement, FEFA said the observation findings, conducted between May 26 and July 22, revealed 10,000 individuals in 25 provinces received voter cards without being asked for valid documents.
Over 4, 000 cards were distributed to under age people in 21 provinces, an obvious violation of the electoral law, it said.
In 134 cases, friends and family members were given voter cards on behalf of the individuals concerned in five provinces.
It was observed in 68 cases that one person received more than one card in five provinces -- a major violation.
And in four cases, local commanders and police threatened the election staff and voters, the FEFA observers found.
In several provinces, insecurity kept residents away from registration centres, directly affecting the campaign. Security events delayed the registration process at 14 centres in 9 provinces for hours and even for days, the foundation said.
FEFA observers noted 16 cases in which opening the centers was delayed and registration staff found absent in 14 provinces, with most such cases taking place at woman voters’ registration sites.
FEFA also observed growing technical problems with equipment in 11 centers and a result, many aspirants left without receiving cards. In some cases, the IEC staff distributed cards to people without taking their photos.
FEFA’s observers linked low level of women’s participation in the first phase to the establishment of registration sites in inappropriate locations far from their homes. In 13 cases, female sites lacked policewomen, a factor discouraging women from registering.
The observation findings showed sensitive materials had not been kept in safe places in nine centers, where the serial numbers of voters’ cards did not match the last registered numbers.
The FEFA observed police and local officials threatened IEC staff, observers and applicants in four cases.
The foundation recommended awareness programs, improved security and the deployment of female police at woman sites in order to enhance women’s participation in the process.
It said the election commission must ensure that valid documents of applicants were checked before they were issued cards. The IEC must also ensure that sensitive materials were kept in safe places and that a working timetable was observed by the IEC staff.
It said international institutions should strengthen their observation role in the second phase and observe the process regularly.
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