The presidential election in Afghanistan is scheduled for 9 October. As of 23 August 10.35 million Afghans had registered to vote. That is good. That so many people have registered must indicate that people feel a tremendous relief at being free of the Taliban regime. (Although apparently only 42% of eligible women have registered.)
But it is also strange… Why? Because the voting population is estimated to contain just 9.5 million people! It may be just that voting cards are so easy to get hold of that people are having fun trying to collect as many as possible.
It may be that candidates are trying to get extra votes by getting their supporters to vote more than once. Most of the candidates are either former warlords or representatives of ethnic groups. The exceptions are the incumbent President, Hamid Karzai, who is the West’s man, and Dr Massouda Jalal, a brave woman who is standing in the face of intimidation and hostility from the religious forces that still hold a great deal of power in Afghanistan.
Karzai is taking a fairly relaxed attitude: “People are enthusiastic, they want to have cards. In fact, it doesn’t bother me if Afghans have two registration cards. If they’d like to vote twice, well, welcome, this is an exercise in democracy, let them exercise it twice.”
He could have added “Especially if their votes go to me.”