Election Day, 6: The Counting Begins

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So with the rain coming down harder in Kabul, the polls are finally closed after being extended an additional hour for those waiting in line.

In the coming days expect strongly worded speeches from the candidates, accusations of fraud, discussions of polling stations that were closed that should not have been, further negotiations and anything else that they can do to sway the counting process.  Already Ghani has come out today to complain about the availability of ballots (one of our researchers reported two stations that he visited that had run out of ballots).

At this point, however, most of the voters I spoke with seemed to have approached this election with a grim determination.  The BBC referred to a “carnival-like” atmosphere and I have to admit, I did not see any of that.  The turn out appears to have been moderately high (the IEC already is estimating 7 million, which fits with the lines at the polling stations I visited), but there is still serious concerns about the future of the country.  Most did not seem that sure that one candidate would do a better job than the others, but there was a sense that voting was a way of thwarting the insurgents aiming to derail the government.  Barring a disaster in the counting process or a jump in the reports of irregularities, this certainly seems like a good step in participatory politics in Afghanistan.

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