Afghan election scores 58 pct turnout: commission chief
(Reuters) - Turnout from Afghanistan's presidential election was seven million out of 12 million eligible voters, or about 58 percent, election commission chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani said on Saturday.
Nuristani told reporters the figure of seven million was based on preliminary estimates.
Afghans vote in presidential poll
Millions defy Taliban threats to choose successor to President Karzai, in nation's first democratic transfer of power.
D. Parvaz Last updated: 05 Apr 2014 17:29
|Kabul, Afghanistan - It was not without its glitches, but an election signaling the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan went off without major incident.|
There were minor attacks during Saturday's presidential poll, leading to nearly 900 polling stations being closed due to fighting or lack of security forces.
The capital was quiet and security was heavy, with thousands of security forces manning checkpoints across the city.
There were a steady stream of small attacks, foiled attacks, ballot shortages and reports of ballot-stuffing and voter irregularity throughout the day.
"I'm 100 percent sure that there will be fraud," said Takhor Shaml, a 21 year-old medical student. "But I'm still here to vote for the next president and provincial candidates."
At that very polling station, a tense scene unfolded at day's end when observers for presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah's campaign refused to let a box of ballots be taken away for counting.
Mujib Rahman, one of the observers, wondered "why a box had shown up half full from the ministry of women’s affairs, why votes from this station are cast into it, why enough ballots and enough boxes aren't provided and why the box must be taken away to be counted."
'We now know what we’re doing'
Shrugging off fears of fraud, many cheerfully lined up to vote.
Abdulbagheh Seddiqi, 62 the information manager of a television station, said he was not too concerned about voter fraud.
"I don’t plan to cheat, so I count on others not to cheat," he said. When asked about the possibility of government fraud - what many are worried about - Seddiqi replied: "The first election  was new to us, we learned more by the second one  and now we know what we're doing."
The results of this third attempt will start to roll in as soon as 28 of the 34 provinces have counted five percent of their vote - a process that will take several days.
The counting process will also be observed by local and international groups.
Security concerns will continue over the next following days as ballots are transported and counted, but an unnamed security official told Al Jazeera that the number of recorded attacks on election day has been lower than an average days in the country.
Participation was the crucial question of the day. Indeed, Afghan local media reported on the morning of the elections that 70 percent of eligible voters were expected to turn out.
But that number, said Political analyst Haroun Mir, is too high, as it’s unknown how many people are eligible or registered to vote, with the number for the latter swinging somewhere between just over 16 million to 12 million.
In a country of somewhere between 28 million - 32 million (there has been no recent census), hard data can be elusive.
It is also unknown how many voter registration cards - which are simple, laminated pieces of paper, without a barcode or a magnetic strip of any sort - have actually been issued.
"What’s important is that in 2009, seven million people voted, with about 1.2 million of those votes being discounted [due to fraud]," Mir told Al Jazeera.
"If in the ensuing years all the people that have come of age to be eligible to vote and we have seven to eight million people voting, that will be significant."
The eligible and the legally ineligible alike were lining up to vote, all with voter ID cards.
Nazanin, 16, also seemed focused on the presidential election over the provincial elections, taking place on the same day. "I think war is enough and we want peace," said the high school student, on why she was voting.
Although not legally being eligible to vote herself (but was voting nonetheless), she also said she fears "fraud by government officials."
Adibeh Khorami, an election observer at one of the 8,455 polling centres for women, said the Kabul station where she was working saw a 14-year-old girl come in with a voter ID, attempting to vote.
"She was wearing a chadori [a burqa]," said Khorami, who had seen 343 women at her polling station by 2pm local time.
"That’s how they try to get it. We took her card away, put her name on a list barring her from voting elsewhere and sent her away."