Search

 

Cablegate: Understanding Irregularities in Voter Registration

VZCZCXRO3465
PP RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #3190/01 3460820
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 110820Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6382
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003190

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CRS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR MCGRAW
CG CJTF-101, POLAD, JICCENT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV AF
SUBJECT: UNDERSTANDING IRREGULARITIES IN VOTER REGISTRATION

REF: KABUL 3106

1. (SBU) By December 13, 24 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces
will have completed the voter registration update exercise.
To date, observed irregularities and partisan quibbles alike
revolve around the politically-sensitive question of Pashtun
participation. This dynamic makes Phases 3 and 4, in the
remaining ten provinces in the Pashtun-dominated east and
south, a bellwether for popular acceptance of the electoral
process as legitimate.

--------------
SMALL LIES ...
--------------

2. (SBU) UN election staff consider fraud to date in voter
registration quite limited, with reported cases appearing in
only Logar and Paktya, two of the 24 provinces of Phase 1 and
Phase 2. As reported reftel, UNAMA field officers cite
credible reports that in these provinces, where Pashtun
tribes dominate, men provided lists of women's names to
registration workers and received voter cards in return. The
women never appeared at the registration site to prove their
identity or provide fingerprints. The numbers of new women
voters in Logar and Paktya are anomalous, with rates running
at over 60 percent of total new registrants. UN political
experts are studying the data and will forward their
conclusions to the Independent Elections Commission (IEC.)

3. (SBU) The coalition of Afghan NGOs observing the
process, FEFA, has some 350 observers on the ground and
presented similar conclusions in its December 6 press
conference. FEFA described voter registration as successful
and sound overall. Its observers reported the following
types of fraud and procedural flaws, in descending frequency:
registration of voters under 18; multiple registrations;
distribution of blank registration forms; and issuance of
cards intended for wives to their husbands, as above. Very
rarely, FEFA observed partisan bias among registration staff.
The IEC conducted self-monitoring missions in Kabul, Balkh,
Kunduz, Baghlan, and Samangan provinces, but these
conclusions are not yet known.

4. (SBU) The observed and reported voter registration fraud
in itself will have little or no impact on the outcome of the
election. The key safeguards on election day against multiple
voting are the integrity of polling center staff and the use
of indelible ink. For voters to use multiple cards as an
excuse to conduct multiple or proxy voting, as occurred in
2005, polling center staff must acquiesce in de-linking one
voter, one card, one vote. As for stuffing ballot boxes and
fudging vote counts, the IEC is leaning toward counting votes
at polling centers, which will provide the detailed results
data that itself exposes such attempts at fraud.


-----------------
...AND STATISTICS
-----------------

5. (SBU) Mark Twain's quip, "There are three kinds of lies:
lies, damn lies, and statistics," applies to the problem of
gauging the number of Pashtun voters and their participation
in the electoral process. The government's Central
Statistics Office has not conducted a recent census and even
overall population estimates are shaky. The population
density map most used by US forces, for example, shows a
crisp line along the famously porous southern border with
Pakistan, reflecting incomplete underlying data for
Afghanistan. The Afghan national identification card does
record ethnic identity, but many citizens do not have this
document. The IEC does not indicate ethnic identity on voter
registration cards nor keep any record of a registrant's
claimed ethnicity. Thus, no one knows how many Pashtuns
reside in the country, how many Pashtuns are of voting age,
or how many Pashtuns have or will obtain voter registration
cards. Even data to make reliable estimates do not exist.

6. (SBU) A lack of useful information has not kept various
commentators from dark speculations about possible Pashtun
disenfranchisement. Some are spuriously specific, citing
totals and percentages, and others rely on geography as a
proxy to ethnicity, tagging certain districts or provinces as
wholly Pashtun. The accounts of these analysts seem to track
most closely with political predilection and ethnic identity.
Ghazni and Herat, for example, both contain a mix of ethnic

KABUL 00003190 002 OF 002


populations. A Pashtun political observer in Kabul, however,
recently opined that Ghazni's security problems
disenfranchised Pashtuns exclusively, while Herat's
relatively low participation in the voter update reflected a
disproportionately large baseline number of registered Tajiks
and Hazaras.

7. (SBU) President Karzai has been especially focused on
the conduct of voter registration, and ultimately the
election, in Helmand province. He views the credibility of
the election overall through the lens of how the process is
conducted in Helmand. In fact, in the 2004 election, Helmand
comprised only 3.6 percent of the overall vote in the
country, and 6 percent of Karzai's total vote. In contrast,
the much smaller Nangarhar province, which is also
predominately Pashtun, comprised 10 percent of Karzai's
overall votes.

8. (SBU) Perception, therefore, is key to popular
acceptance of the electoral process as legitimate. Voter
registration in the predominately Pashtun areas of the east
and south, in Phases 3 and 4, will for many serve as a
barometer of Pashtun participation overall. If the process
goes smoothly in larger population centers, such as Lashkar
Gah, Kandahar city, and Tarin Kowt, and takes place at all in
the sparsely-populated rural and desert regions, many will
accept that fairness is at play.
DELL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: