Afghanistan betrayed

Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced the results of the September 2019 Presidential election on February 18, 2020. The timing of the announcement is curious. Just afterwards America revealed that a peace (of sorts) has been agreed with the Taliban, to be signed on February 27. Once signed, negotiations will be handed off to the Afghan government. But until the release of the results, there wasn’t a government to negotiate. It seems fishy. It is.

There are plenty of unanswered questions about the results.

The IEC conducted an audit on the preliminary results. The methodology of the audit is undisclosed. And the numbers keep changing. Cursory explanations do not withstand scrutiny.

The first preliminary results tallied 1,929,333. Then DermaLog (the provider of the biometric equipment) cancelled 86,225 votes that they say are duplicates. That leaves a total of 1,843,107 votes. The IEC’s website discloses the preliminary result on December 20, 2019 as 1,824,401. No explanation for the missing 18,706 votes.

The post audit tally is 1,823,848. Of that total Ashraf Ghani, the incumbent supposedly won 923,592, a mere 11,668 above the threshold required for a runoff election. The lack of transparency raises suspicion. No wonder Dr Abdullah and the other losing candidates refuse to accept the results.

The cancelled votes also don’t make sense.

Voting was validated using the Voter ID card, facial recognition and fingerprints. The invalidated votes are made up as follows:

Category Votes
Voter ID Cards 47,527
Facial recognition 5,822
Fingerprints 37,006
Double uploaded 5,141
Sub-total 95,496
Less duplicates -9,270
Duplicate votes 86,226

These figures are nonsensical. The duplicates for ID cards, facial recognition and fingerprints should be identical. Each voter is identified using all three criteria. There is potential for some small difference when the face is matched and the fingerprint is not, and vice versa, but these differences should be less than 1%.

If both biometrics were not used in all instances, then identifying double voting becomes impossible. The instances where facial technology was used cannot be matched to instances where fingerprints were used. This opens the possibility for selective implementation of the technology in such a way that the outcome can be manipulated.

The voter ID card would not match the biometrics when the voter uses someone else’s ID card for double voting. However, when the system is working, these votes should be identified as invalid before they are considered as duplicates.

The number of invalid votes for failed biometric matching has not been published, which raises another question about the technology.

Dermalog have refused to provide answers.

The biometric technology has not worked, making the results unreliable. The only credible solution is to hold the election again, as is happening in Malawi.

All the technical issues must be resolved:
• ensuring that both biometrics are captured for every voter;
• checking that the Voter ID card matches the biometrics of voter on record;
• synchronizing the instrument times using atomic time clocks, and;
• ensuring that the voter’s photo is valid.

Afghanistan has a voting age population of over 16 million. An election by 11% is not credible. The Afghans have a right to feel betrayed, again.

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