Sayed Gul walked into a small mud brick room in eastern Afghanistan, a bundle wrapped in a shawl on his back. With a flick, he plonked the package onto a threadbare carpet and hundreds of voter cards spilled out.
“How many do you want to buy?” he asked with a grin.
Like many others, Gul left a routine job – in his case, repairing cars in Marco, a small town in the east – to join a thriving industry selling the outcome of next year’s presidential elections.
Gul, who had a long, black beard and was dressed in the traditional loose salwar kameez, said he was able to buy voter cards for 200 Pakistani rupees ($1.89) each from villagers and sell them on for 500 rupees ($4.73) to campaign managers, who can use them in connivance with poll officials to cast seemingly legitimate votes.
So Afghanistan has its own Community Organizers. That means we have nothing more to teach them. Maybe Obama can recruit some of them to go to work on the midterm elections.
Unfortunately the racist Afghan system does have some Voter ID baked in…
Women’s voter cards are the easiest to trade because men can obtain them on their behalf – without providing a photograph or their fingerprints.
This is because in Afghanistan’s ultra-conservative culture, it is insulting to ask a woman to show her face and many are not allowed to leave the house without an escort, if at all.
…but the traditional Islamic respect for oppressing women solves that problem without the NAACP having to get involved.
Traders like Gul say they are not engaging in criminal behavior, but merely responding to the demands of rich politicians and poor villagers who choose to trade their votes for a few extra meals.
In parts of the northern and lawless province of Kunduz, voter cards have become a form of currency and are being exchanged for bags of rice and potatoes
Probably smart of them. At least they’ll get something in exchange for their vote.