Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Exposing Fraud in Afghan Election

  • Election day in the Balkh province. (Photo: IWPR)
    Election day in the Balkh province. (Photo: IWPR)

The Afghan election was one of the biggest stories on the international stage this year, with IWPR created arguably the most complete record of the campaign and polls by any media outlet working in Afghanistan. 

Throughout July, IWPR election-related workshops were held for trainee journalists in ten locations across the country. These reporters had been studying with IWPR for the past year, and their hard work resulted in high quality coverage. More than 30 election-related stories were published during July and August. IWPR journalists gained access to places where the international media could not reach and led the way in reporting the widespread election fraud.

While the international community initially hailed the election as a success, right from the start IWPR clearly presented a full picture of the violence and fraud which marred the process.

The story Taleban Tactics Take Their Toll followed the vote from Wardak to Ghazni to Mazar-e-Sharif to Helmand, interviewing voters and officials as they struggled to get through a day that challenged every Afghan, whether an ordinary resident, an election worker or a security officer. Our report Helmand Vote Marred by Rockets and Fraud zeroed in on one province, exploring more deeply the issues that would dominate the post-election debate.

The story Afghans Speak of Electoral Fraud and Fear which was prominently featured on Afghanistan’s foremost listserv, Moby Capital Updates, gave voters from Herat, Balkh, and Wardak a chance to tell of their experiences during the election process, and of their fears for the future. This was also one of the very few articles produced by any media outlet that spoke of fraud by both major candidates.

Most reports highlighted ballot-box stuffing by the campaign of President Hamed Karzai, but few were privy to the direct voter intimidation practiced by supporters to Karzai’s chief rival, Dr Abdullah Abdullah.

In general, the election coverage produced by the IWPR team is a powerful testimony to the courage and determination of Afghan journalists, as well as to their increasing levels of professionalism. 

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