Despite Taliban Threat, High Turnout In Afghan Election

Afghanistan elections have so far produced high voter turn out with relatively little violence.
Posted at 1:13 PM, Apr 06, 2014

An unforeseen problem has struck Afghanistan's national elections this week — no, not Taliban attacks, but extremely enthusiastic voters.

Voter turnout was reportedly so high Saturday that polling stations were running out of ballots and voting hours were extended nationwide. And tight security in the capital, Kabul, and the rest of the country ensured no major militant attack occurred. (Via The Wall Street Journal)

Contributing to the high turnout were 1.3 million newly registered women voters this year — that figure according to the United Nations. In total, more than 20 million Afghans are registered to vote, and the expected turnout is 58 percent.  

Afghanistan police confirmed 140 attacks. Seems like a lot, though that's actually much less violence than what the nation's last elections saw. And it's fewer than the hundreds of attacks the Taliban claims to have carried out.

Reporting on the remarkably low violence, The New York Times explains: 

"It was a lower casualty toll than on a normal day in Afghanistan, let alone an election on which both the insurgents and the government had staked their credibility.​"

​In an interview with The Telegraph, one Afghan woman praised her peoples' defiance, saying: 

"I am proud to practice democracy I am proud to come and vote. That means, for me, a lot because that means we slap in the face of the Afghanistan enemey."

It appears as if voting fraud, not retaliation by the Taliban, is the main cause of concern for those keeping track of the election. 

Ballot stuffing, fake votes and illegal registration plagued the 2009 election, which eventually led to the disqualification of more than a million votes. (Via United Nations)

The Guardian says "It would be foolish to call the election overall a success at this stage" and that if no one candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, a second round runoff could cause problems. 

TheFinancial Times notes that with the election being primarily a three way contest between three candidates, a second round runoff could delay the outcome of the election until July, or even later. 

The country's third presidential election will mark the end of current Afghan president Hamid Karzai's 13 years in office, which began with the toppling of the Taliban in 2001.