Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

Electoral Violence Prevention: Key to the Credibility of the Outcome

Violence before, during, and after elections has been a feature of Afghanistan’s political landscape. The Afghan government’s first line of defense against election violence is the Afghan National Police (ANP) and the Afghan National Army. However, violence, and the intervention of the army to restore order, casts a shadow over the democratic process. The performance of the ANP will be one criterion for judging the broader political success of the 2018 National Assembly contest.
Afghan security officials have promised to deploy vast numbers of policemen to provide security, and have stressed the importance of preventing the kind of violence that marred the 2014 elections. Therefore, security and defense departments have developed a new strategy that will be implemented in three phases. Maintaining security at polling centers, around the preparation of a voters list and around election day itself are the core areas of the strategy in order people can vote freely and in a secure environment on the day of election. What concerns the security analysts is that out of the 7,000 polling centers, 2,000 of them face high security threats and that operations need to be launched there. According to the institutions overseeing election processes, not only maintaining security around election day is vital, but security around the entire process needs to be maintained in order to ensure a transparent election.
A number of high-profile insurgent attacks on voter registration centers in Kabul and other parts of the country have led to high numbers of casualties. These attacks led to relatively lower voter registration and there concerns that this violence will lead to lower voter turnout- that will undermine the credibility of the outcome of 2018 Wolsi Jirga election.
How the security will be ensured by ANDSF?
The recent attacks and violence have underscored the security challenges facing Afghanistan as it prepares to hold parliamentary elections in October. Anyhow, the security and defense departments have announced that they will implement the electoral security strategy in three phases.
First, vulnerable polling stations will be identified and operations will be launched in these areas to remove any risks. Secondly, more forces will be deployed at the polling centers that are high-risk stations and thirdly, the national army will support police where necessary, more supplies will be provided to them and if needed more forces will be stationed at high-risk polling stations. 
However, people’s electoral security perception suggests that there is little reason for optimism. In the view of many observers, Afghan security and defense forces, especially Afghan National Police, remain plagued by corruption, inadequate training, and a lack of resources. Incompetence and predatory behavior, have deeply alienated the force from the population the ANSDF, especially ANP, is intended to serve. These factors have made it next to impossible for the ANP to develop the intelligence information necessary to anticipate and thwart election-related violence.
In Sum, electoral violence is one of the major threats to electoral transparency in Afghanistan. If the ANSDF maintain peace & order at every Polling Station on the Election Day, they will ensure a fair and transparent election in the country. This not only ensures the credibility of the forthcoming elections, but also will show the new and resilient face of the ANSDF as well.