Slow delivery of election materials undermines Afghan presidential polls

As the country is going to hold the 2019 presidential election—set to be held on September 28—many observers express concern over slow delivery of sensitive electoral materials to election sites across the country. They say slow provision of sensitive election materials undermines the country’s election.

With three days remaining to the Election Day, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has just delivered materials to 160 districts while 227 districts are still waiting to receive election materials.

Zabihullah Sadat, a spokesperson for the IEC, however, assures that the delivery process of the electoral materials to polling centers will be completed by Friday, September 27.

As per the presidential election timeline, the IEC should have completed the delivery process by September 23.

Slow delivery of sensitive materials has raised concerns among election watchdogs and observers. A number of observers say it is better to postpone the election if the IEC is incapable to deliver the materials.

Habibullah Shinwari, a program manager at the Election and Transparency Watch Organization of Afghanistan (ETWA), expresses concern over slow delivery of election materials. He says he doubts whether the IEC has delivered electoral materials to 160 districts.

Yousuf Rasheed, executive director of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) also expresses concern over slow delivery of sensitive materials, saying that so far materials have not been supplied to many parts of the country. Rasheed, however, believes that postponing the polls is not a good option. “The election commission must do its best to deliver on the promise it made,” he asserted.

Security threats and loss of the sensitive materials, biometric devices—while being transferred to polling centers—are major challenge that undermines the polls. Based on reports sent to electoral observers, the sensitive electoral materials have been damaged at least in three districts of Ghazni, in Maidan Wardak, and Kunar provinces.

According to ETWA, biometric devices of 14 ballot boxes have been damaged in security incidents in Ghazni.

Zabihullah Sadat, The IEC spokesperson, nonetheless, assures that sensitive electoral materials will be supplied safely to election sites. He underlines the IEC will supply new materials just in case any damage is done to materials.