Afghan goes all ACORN at ballot box?

NY Times:

A little more than 24 hours after polls closed, President Obama stepped out on the White House South Lawn to pronounce the Afghanistan presidential elections something of a success.

“This was an important step forward in the Afghan people’s effort to take control of their future, even as violent extremists are trying to stand in their way,” Mr. Obama said. “I want to congratulate the Afghanistan people on carrying out this historic election.”

But now, as reports mount of widespread fraud in the balloting, including allegations that supporters of the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, illegally stuffed ballot boxes in the south and ripped up ballots cast for his opponents, Mr. Obama’s early praise for the Afghan elections may soon be coming back to haunt him.

Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission said Friday that it had received more than 2,000 complaints of fraud or abuse in last week’s election, with 270 of those complaints serious enough to potentially change the outcome. Mr. Karzai’s biggest rival, Abdullah Abdullah, showed reporters video of a local election chief in one polling station stuffing ballot boxes himself.

The vote count has progressed very slowly in Afghanistan — as of Friday, preliminary results with 17 percent of the vote in gave Mr. Karzai 44 percent and Mr. Abdullah 35 percent. If no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote, a run-off must be held between the two top candidates.

For the Obama administration, it is, in many ways, the worst of all possible outcomes. Administration officials have made no secret of their growing disenchantment with Mr. Karzai, who is viewed by the West as having so compromised himself to try to get elected—including striking deals with accused drug dealers and warlords for political gain—that he will be a hindrance to international efforts to get the country on track after the election.

But Mr. Karzai, in a feat of political cunning which has surprised some in the Obama administration, has managed to turn that disenchantment to an advantage, painting himself at home as the only political candidate willing to stand up to the dictates of the United States, according to Western officials.

That sounds like a strategy a Democrat would love. I have not seen the video yet, but if it makes it to YouTube, it will probably get a lot of play. I am surprised it has not been played for Karzai yet.

At this point the best that all parties can hope for is a run off with Abdullah that is properly supervised and seen as fair. If the winner is to have legitimacy that is the only solution.

BTW, I know that ACORN is more into stuffing registration roles, but the motivation is the same.


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