KABUL (Pajhwok): Dozens of biometric machines have either gone missing or their memory erased, but the Independent Election Commission (IEC) says the exact number of such devices will be shared and the votes recorded on them invalidated.
The presidential election was conducted on Sep 28 across the country. The exact number of the missing biometric sets and information lost is yet to be ascertained.
The election took place under the biometric system. The IEC recently said seven devices had been lost and powerful individuals had erased information from 22 others.
However, the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) believes the number of the biometric devices missing, stolen, broken or whose memory was erased mistakenly or deliberately on election day is much higher.
Both TEFA and the poll panel have promised sharing the exact information with the people later on.
IEC Deputy Director Maulana Mohammad Abdullah told Pajhwok Afghan News the number of such devices was yet to be known but the current information showed that three machines were lost in Faryab and strongmen in different parts of the country stole SD cards of biometric sets.
He said: “The powerful individuals pulled out the SD cards so that non-biometric votes can be counted.”
The commission would only count biometric votes, the official said, adding the ballots without biometric manual stickers (QR Code) would be treated in accordance with the panel’s procedure.
Abdullah said the IEC had directed all workers to present information about the stolen and broken biometric devices, including those without SD cards.
He added that biometric system operators were responsible for providing a report to the commission about the devices.
Without going into details, he said the people who had stolen or tampered with the devices had been identified by the commission and they would be referred to judicial organs if they did not return the machines.
IEC commissioner Abdullah said votes registered on the devices that were missing or tampered with were invalid. Each biometric device has the capacity to store information about 400 voters.
But TEFA head Mohammad Naeem Ayubzada claimed some data had been removed mistakenly or deliberately by IEC workers.
A number diminished
Ayubzada, without going into details, said the number of biometric devices missing, stolen, broken or whose memory was removed mistakenly or deliberately on election day was higher than the figure given by IEC.
Preliminary results of the presidential election are expected to be announced on Oct. 19 and the final tallies on November 7.
Ahmad Sohaib Hasrat
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