Back from visiting some stations and talking with researchers at other stations. Of the four of us, two went to new stations, two went to stations that we had visited in previous rounds for a total of about 14. In terms of turnout it is a tough call in comparison with the April 5 vote. Most stations seemed to have a similar turnout, though we had researchers report both on places where lines were much shorter than they were last time and places where they seemed much longer than last time.
Part of the difficulty of estimating turnout is the fact that voting was much faster this time round. With only two candidates on the ballot, there was less work for the voter to do and polling station officials seemed well-practiced.
Interestingly in one of the Pashtun areas (thus filled with Ghani supporters) turn out seemed much higher. This was only two instances, so it’s hard to tell if this will be indicative of wider trends. In some of the Abdullah areas, numbers seemed more consistent with last round, and perhaps a touch lower. This, however, would support the recent poll that suggested that Ghani had made up much of the initial distance between him and Ghani.
Security around Kabul is incredibly tight, with a few police checkpoints only letting those with monitoring passes (or diplomatic plates) pass through. Not sure what this will do to turnout. It some ways it creates a sense of security, but there are so many police its verging on threatening. One of our researchers spoke to a group of women who decided not to vote because of concerns about security threats. There were a series of small explosions in Kabul this morning, though follow up reports are still saying that they were small and that there were no causalities. News outlets are reporting other small-scale attacks from a number of provinces, but I have yet to hear about any serious ones and they have not seemed to deter voters in Kabul.
Finally, just to add to the gravity of the day there was a small mid-morning earthquake. Not enough to do any damage, just rattle the windows and remind people to vote.