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Afghans Survive Severed Fingers to Cast Second Round Votes

The Independent Election Commission is embroiled in a scandal following the 2014 Afghan vote. Photo via Wikipedia Commons

The Independent Election Commission is embroiled in a scandal following the 2014 Afghan vote. Photo via Wikipedia Commons

Seven million Afghans went to polling stations on Saturday according to the Independent Election Commission to elect Hamid Karzai's presidential successor in a run-off vote that will determine the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan's history. Nearly 40 percent of the voters were women. 

Approximately 18 Afghan soldiers and 76 civilians were reported murdered during the vote and more than ten people reported that their fingers were chopped off by the Taliban to discourage them from casting votes. 

It didn't appear to work. Ahmad Shuja, a Human Rights Watch research associate, described the people's determination to vote:  

Preliminary results expected by July 2 will point to whether Abdullah Abdullah or Ashraf Ghani becomes the next head of state. Full results will appear on July 22. An Afghan journalist, Farzad Lami, expressed the importance of the occasion in a pertinent tweet:

Concerns over the country's long-term future remain. Asia Society's Afghanistan fellow Ramin Anwari wrote:  

Voice of America journalist Zheela Jan quoted one of the voters whose finger was cut reportedly by the Taliban:

Afghanistan is facing many challenges – the security threat from the Taliban, a basket-case economy, weak law enforcement and endemic corruption, to name a few. However, following months of campaigning and a great turnout in the first and second round of elections it is clear Afghans are determined to move ahead despite these challenges.

Electoral fraud remains a major issue, and some media have already expressed doubt over the IEC's claim of a 7 million turnout. Moreover, IEC Secretariat Chief Zia-ul-Haq Amarkahil's staff were caught with unused ballots trying to leave the IEC headquarters. A committee has been formed to investigate the matter. Amarkhail, accused of using the ballots in favor of a specific candidate, denied all allegations and claimed he is being framed.

During a press conference after the election day, candidate Abdullah demanded an investigation into the matter, threatening not to accept the results of the elections unless one took place. Candidate Ghani also expressed his concern over fraud and requested an investigation via Twitter:

Ghani's team had previously asked voters to contact them in case fraud was seen or suspected. 

Attacks and clashes occurred between the supporters of the two running teams. According to local media, Ghani's supporters were beaten up by Abdullah's supporters. But a tweet from Abdullah Abdullah's Twitter account suggested Ghani's men were the aggressors [fa]: 

Violent attacks on our election observers by the opposing team is not only an immoral act, but also against the rules and regulations of the elections.

By July 22, the results will be in. It will be up to the two remaining candidates to decide whether they respect or contest them

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