Officials from the Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Sunday said they have made a decision that the commission will not count nor accept votes from people not registered on the biometric system on the day of elections.
With just 13 days to go before the October 20 parliamentary elections, the IEC’s spokesman Sayed Hafizullah Hashemi said they have not however decided on what to do if biometric devices are not delivered to all polling stations on time nor on what to do if the devices are defective.
He said however they will not accept votes of people who have not been registered on the biometric system.
The IEC’s remarks come after concerns were raised that the devices may not arrive on time at all 21,000 polling stations – and even then, some might not work.
“We will not accept the ballot paper boxes that have not been cleared through the biometric process. The decision was taken yesterday (Saturday) and will be announced officially on our website. If any problem happens with the transportation (of the devices) or any other problem arises, the commission will make a decision on the day,” said Hashemi.
Hashemi also said the commission has decided that the taking of photographs of women will be optional.
Meanwhile the political parties coalition said if the devices fail to arrive at polling centers on time, or if they are defective, the elections should be delayed for a few days at these centers in order to resolve the problems.
The parties were adamant that they would not accept election results from areas where the biometric systems were not used.
“In the areas where the commission fails to use the biometric system, the political parties will not accept the results,” Humayun Jarir, a member of the political committee of political parties said.
The Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), an institution overseeing the election process, meanwhile said the use of biometric devices in the upcoming parliamentary elections will create lots of challenges.
“There are concerns over the use of this system, because its operational plan is not clear. As far as we know, the use of the system may pave the ground for fraud,” TEFA executive director Naeem Ayubzada said.
The election commission on Sunday sent biometric devices to Nuristan, Badakhshan, Paktika, Faryab, Uruzgan and Ghor provinces.
Members of the senate meanwhile were on Sunday not too confident about the IEC’s ability to use the system properly by election day – claiming there was not much time for them to ensure the system was used properly. .