October 09, 2004

MORE AFGHANISTAN PHOTOS from Major John Tammes. His description of the photo on the right:

Here is a voter receiving instructions before going to the booth to select
his choice.

And his description of the photo below:

This fellow is keeping the ballot box at a school in Dasht-e Robat (we had a Los Angeles Times reporter and photog accompany us!)

Tammes also forwards this Word version of the Afghan electoral law, and this Powerpoint presentation on the process.

There have been a few complaints:

[O]pposition candidates claimed the polls were unfair because the ink used to mark people's thumbs so they vote only once rubbed off too easily.

I'd be shocked if there weren't some fraud, of course -- but given that the United States still doesn't require photo identification, or mark people who have voted with indelible UV ink, etc., I don't suppose we're in a position to point fingers unless it's fairly significant. At any rate, given that critics were predicting that the elections would be derailed by chaos and mass violence (even worse than this!), complaints about insufficiently-indelible ink seem like a pretty good sign to me. I expect media stories to play up the fraud complaints and to downplay what a colossal achievement -- and rebuke to those critics -- this was. Read this for more background.

And from the look of these photos, the Afghans are already ahead of us in ballot technology!

UPDATE: Related thoughts here. ("Who can simply accept the results anymore? These days, there must be an elaborate, contentious post-election phase to magnify the losers' discontent. The only hope to avoid that is a wide margin of victory. That hope seems better in Afghanistan than in the U.S.") We've successfully exported American-style democracy already!