Residents in Nangarhar province, which lies on the border with Pakistan, said local Taliban militants have been offering voters 500 Pakistani rupees – the equivalent of just over $5 – to opt out of the election.
The Taliban did not respond to a request for comment.
Saturday’s election will bring the first democratic transfer of power in war-torn Afghanistan and an end to the rule of President Hamid Karzai, who has led the country since the ouster of a Taliban regime in late 2001. The Taliban have branded the election a Western-backed sham. The Independent Election Commission has said at least 10 percent of polling stations will not be able to open due to the threat of violence, the majority of them in the east where the insurgents are most active.
Influential tribal elders say they would support any of the three candidates, but many people in remote areas of the region won’t be casting a vote anyway. In Nangarhar alone, 115 polling stations will not open due to concerns about mass fraud and ballot-stuffing as well as security, the provincial election chief, Akhtar Mohammad Ajmal, told Reuters.
A 10-year-old was caught with 1,200 fake voting cards in neighbouring Kunar province this week.
$5 is roughly the going price for a voter card in Afghanistan so the Taliban are paying fair value.
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 technically the Taliban are paying the price of an actual vote… for not voting. I would mention something about how Afghanistan is not ready for democracy, but considering that one of the planks of the Democratic Party is opposition to Voter ID, I’m not too sure that Chicago or Detroit are ready for democracy either.