Over the weekend, Afghan voters went to the polls, and with the Taliban threatening to attack polling places, many registered voters stayed home. This led to another major decline in voter turnout.
Early estimates are that between 20% and 25% of voters turned out. [20-25% on the idea that there are 9.7 million “registered voters”, rather than that many adults.] If this bears out, it will be the lowest turnout Afghanistan has seen since the 2001 US invasion and occupation.
Officials are saying this disastrously low turnout won’t be enough to disrupt the election [which are traditionally decided by ballot stuffing anyway], but between that, the threats of violence, and the allegations of fraud that began even before the voting started, officials will once again struggle to sell this election to the public.
That’s par for the course in Afghanistan, where every major election since the US takeover has been heavily contested, with election commissions fighting over the counts and recounts.
Indeed, the 2014 election, the most recent, ended with the US declaring both candidates winners and creating a whole second office for the other candidate.
Assuming no one decisively wins this round of the election, low turnout notwithstanding, they will have to have a run-off vote between the top two vote getters. Since this election has already been delayed, a run-off would be particularly inopportune, and would again boil down to President Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah, the same two as in the 2014 election.