The 2019 presidential election, though flawed it might be, is the only alternative for power sharing in a complex country as Afghanistan where struggle for power led to bloody domestic violence and civil war in 1990s.

For the first time ever in the history of country’s election, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) took an initiative to use biometric fingerprint readers to assure a transparent and fair presidential election in a society where struggle for power has reached its culmination in the last decades. But many Afghan voters in the capital Kabul and other provinces of the country complain as they did not find their names on the list and record of the newly applied biometric fingerprint readers.

Many enthusiastic voters who turned out on September 28 to cast their votes returned their homes without casting votes as their names were not on the list. Angry voters, who couldn’t cast votes in ballot box to elect their favorite candidates, say the IEC did a poor performance, and lambaste on the country’s election commission, accusing it of staging an organized election fraud and vote rigging, a claim the commission has repeatedly called baseless.  

Despite complaints by some angry voters, the IEC authorities did not allow the voters, whose names were on the list, to cast their votes in the early hours of polls. A video, circulating on social media, shows confused voters in a polling center in Naw Abad High School in Doghabad neighborhood, PD13, complain about mismanagement in the polling center and poor performance of the IEC.

We had registered in the same polling center and cast our votes in 2018 parliamentary election here, but in this round our names are not on the list, a group of voters complained.                          

Another video, circulating on social media, shows a group of confused voters say that their names are not on the list. A video clip, being circulated on social media, shows another large group of voters in western Kabul demanding the authorities to allow them cast their votes but in vain.

On the other hand, authorities in provincial office of the IEC in the central Bamyan province, acknowledged that names of 200 voters were not found on the list in Shew Qul Kandok polling center.

Some voters in PD11, Proja-e-Jadid, Kabul, said they were unable to cast vote as their names were not on the list.

Although IEC authorities, after hearing many complaints, officially announced that those voters whose names were not on the list were allowed to cast their votes but the decision was a bit late as many angry voters had left the sites by the time it was made public. Many voters from western Kabul told Kabul Now that IEC’s announcement did little to resolve the challenges voters faced on September 28.      

Ferdous Kawosh, editor of Daily Hasht-e-Subh, told Kabul Now that two times—once in the morning and next time in the afternoon— he went to a polling center in Khair Khana neighborhood of Kabul to cast his vote but his name was not on the list.   

Sakina Amiri, who is a journalist, says she went to cast her vote but her name was not on the list. Ms. Amiri told Kabul Now that she could not cast her vote in both elections—the parliamentary and presidential.  

Election watchdogs that closely watched the 2019 presidential election, have expressed concerns over issues of mismanagement in Election Day. In a statement, Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) has said that the IEC authorities did not act on time to address the issue of the missing names. FEFA underlined lack of coordination in the IEC was a major challenge.  

Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) has stated poor performance by the IEC created problems in biometric data center.   

Afghanistan’s Independent Human Right Commission (AIHRC) has noted that inaccuracy in voters’ list was one of the major challenges. AIHRC says that the IEC failed to hold presidential election in the country’s prisons.  Shukrullah Mashkur, spokesman for AIHRC, told Kabul Now that as per the law of the country all inmates have the right to cast votes to elect their favorite candidates.

   

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