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Ballot-stuffing witnessed amid troubled Afghanistan vote

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With The Christian Science Monitor present, they forced their way into the polling center and detained the entire staff of eight on suspicion of ballot stuffing.

“Who are you working for?” the head militiaman screamed, pointing his weapon at them. The men, whose hands were tied behind their backs with scarves, hung their heads and professed their innocence.

But the militiamen discovered hundreds of sheets with the identification information for thousands of registered voters, which is normally only available to election workers in administrative centers.

“You might as well tell the truth now, because if you don’t, we have ways of making you talk,” the head militiaman said angrily. Finally, the cowed men divulged all – they were working for Kalimzai, a local powerbroker and candidate.

The militiamen took the detained workers away, but decided to leave one behind at the polling center in case anyone showed up to vote. No one did.

Later on, this election worker, who was in charge of the polling center, described in detail how his team had set out to stuff the ballots. “We were given $200 each by Kalimzai’s people to fill out the ballots for him,” he explained, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

In the early morning, about 20 people braved the Taliban threats to come to cast a ballot. After nearly two hours, when it was clear that no one else would dare to show, the team dismantled the cardboard voting booths, used the large cardboard pieces to cover the windows, and then went about their work, filling out ballots and matching the corresponding data with their voter lists.

The man supposedly behind the attempted heist, Kalimzai, is the head of a major construction company. Like many of his rival candidates, associates and officials say he has become wealthy from contracts with the foreign forces.

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