Modern Voting Systems Did More Harm Than Good In Afghanistan's Recent Elections

Hafizullah rocks on his hospital bed in pain, an oversized bandage covering the nub where his finger used to be.This is the price he paid for exercising his right to vote in Afghanistan's October 20 parliamentary elections. Shortly after electoral officials in Helmand Province marked his finger with indelible blue ink -- a simple way to help prevent multiple voting -- Taliban fighters abducted Hafizullah and cut off his finger.Hafizullah's experience illustrates the difficulties of employing even the most rudimentary methods to create a transparent voting environment, let alone the new methods attempted by the Afghan authorities for this election.In an attempt to prevent the widespread fraud that has marred previous votes, the authorities introduced computerized voter lists at each of the country's 4,900 polling stations. At the very last minute, they launched a biometric voter-verification system.But instead of helping transparency, the new systems added to the chaos and ultimately undermined the credibility of the vote.



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