Election Day, 2: Security

Compared with 2009 and 2010, voting today felt tenser than it had in the past.  Though one should keep in mind that the last elections took place in the summer and that local campaigns often brought goods for voters giving them a somewhat festive atmosphere.  This time Provincial Council campaigns felt a little more subdued.  In the past we saw candidate supporters distributing cards, hats and food right by stations, but if they were there this time they had been pushed back by the police.  Many roads were closed in Kabul and those that were opened where dotted with checkpoints.

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Within and around the polling stations themselves, security was tighter than it had been in the past.  Police were more diligent frisking every voter and those that had voted were asked to move along quickly.  Crowds often gathered across the street from polling stations to watch the action and were occasionally dispersed by the police.  Security forces had, for a while, shut all the entrances to Kabul (you could leave, but not re-enter) and were threatening to keep the entrances closed until 9 pm.  Luckily our driver was a pretty good talker and they eventually allowed us to sneak in behind a police vehicle.

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