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IRI Statement on Ballot Counting and Adjudication in Afghanistan’s Elections

August 28, 2009

Washington, DC – “IRI was privileged to monitor more than 250 polling stations during Afghanistan’s August 20, 2009, elections with a team of 29 international observers and 40 IRI-trained domestic observers.

“IRI’s preliminary statement issued August 21 noted, ‘All elections are a process of pre-election environment, pre-election administration, Election Day voting, vote counting and post-election adjudication, resulting in acceptance of legitimate results.’

“After noting that ‘unfortunately, such issues as lower turnout, fraud and abuse of state resources brought these elections to a lower standard than the 2004 and 2005 Afghan elections observed by IRI,’ the Institute’s August 21 preliminary statement said ‘nevertheless, given Afghanistan’s circumstances, and based on what IRI observers witnessed in the first three of the five parts of the elections, the process so far has been credible.’

“The fourth and fifth parts of the election – vote counting and adjudication of electoral complaints – have begun.

“As IRI noted in its August 21 preliminary statement, ‘The successful tally and announcement of results by the Independent Election Commission’s central counting center is important for fulfilling voter expectations about current elections and will set the stage for voters’ continued faith in electoral processes.’

“Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) is an independent body charged with adjudicating electoral complaints and IRI encourages candidates to forward their most valid complaints to the ECC.  IRI urges the ECC to fully consider complaints in a manner that will lend to the Afghan people’s acceptance of the country’s August 20 elections as a legitimate expression of popular will, and IRI furthermore urges that the ECC be able to complete its work before final results are announced.

“It is critical that the elections not receive a final judgment until all five parts of the election process are fully completed and all complaints have been adjudicated, which must be done in a prompt, fair and transparent manner that is consistent with established rules.

“As IRI’s August 21 statement concluded, ‘the Afghan people will follow both these processes in judging the elections’ legitimacy, and IRI and others will continue to monitor them before arriving at a final assessment of the elections.’”