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Afghanistan Election Monitor: Extend Voter Registration and Boost Oversight

August 14, 2010

Kabul, August 14, 2010 – The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) joined the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission Saturday in calling for an extension to nationwide voter registration, and cautioned that an extended process should be carried out with tighter oversight to prevent electoral violations.

“Voter registration should be extended to allow more eligible citizens to register,” said FEFA executive director Jandad Spinghar.  “At the same time, the IEC [Independent Election Commission] must be more careful not to allow the extension to become an opportunity for violations such as underage voter registration, proxy registration by men for women voters, and the distribution of multiple cards to individual voters.”

During voter registration for last year’s presidential and provincial council elections, FEFA observers reported rampant irregularities at voter registration centers throughout the country. According to FEFA’s 2009 report on voter registration, between 20 percent and 85 percent of observed centers issued multiple cards to single applicants during different points in the registration process, and one out of every five registrants was underage. Women’s registration was generally low nationwide, and IEC staff failed to prevent widespread proxy registration.

As part of its election observation mission for the upcoming parliamentary elections, FEFA observed voter registration in all 34 provinces and is currently analyzing the data it received. “What we have analyzed so far displays similar patterns to last year’s flawed process, and that is worrying us,” Spinghar said.

FEFA has called on the IEC to exercise tighter oversight over voter registration if the process is extended beyond August 14.

“The IEC must make sure its staff are well-trained and held accountable for their actions, that there are enough women employed to register female voters, and that voter registration materials are secured at every registration center and during transportation,” said Spinghar.

About FEFA: The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan is Afghanistan’s oldest and largest domestic election monitoring body. As an independent, non-governmental organization, it works to ensure that democratic processes are implemented transparently through election observation, civic education, research and advocacy.  FEFA will deploy approximately 7,000 observers on Election Day 2010 and is currently observing the campaigns nationwide.

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