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Widespread electoral fraud in Afghanistan, the New York Times reports

The New York Times reports today that, “Afghans loyal to President Hamid Karzai set up hundreds of fictitious polling sites… The fake sites, as many as 800, existed only on paper, said a senior Western diplomat in Afghanistan… Local workers reported that hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of votes for Mr. Karzai in the election last month came from each of those places.”

“Most of the fraud perpetrated on behalf of Mr. Karzai, officials said, took place in the Pashtun-dominated areas of the east and south… That included Mr. Karzai’s home province, Kandahar, where preliminary results indicate that more than 350,000 ballots have been turned in to be counted. But Western officials estimated that only about 25,000 people actually voted there.”

“Besides creating the fake sites, Mr. Karzai’s supporters also took over approximately 800 legitimate polling centers and used them to fraudulently report tens of thousands of additional ballots for Mr. Karzai, the officials said.”

“Last week, the governor of Shorabak District, which lies in Kandahar Province, claimed that Hamid Karzai’s allies shut down all the polling centers in the area and falsified 23,900 ballots for Mr. Karzai. Two provincial council candidates in Kandahar, both close to the government, confirmed that widespread pro-Karzai fraud had occurred…”

The Times London adds that Independent Election Commission has “annulled results from 447 of about 28,000 polling stations after investigating fraud. …A separate complaints watchdog is urgently sifting through more than 2,000 complaints, including more than 650 that are deemed ‘material to the outcome’ should they be upheld.”

The New York Times article is at