Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, August 26th, 2019

Voters Registration is a Major Step towards Holding Presidential Election

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Voters Registration is a Major Step  towards Holding Presidential Election

According to media reports, the Afghan electoral officials have just commenced supplementary voters registering program ahead of presidential election scheduled for September of the current year. The enrollment program will be continued for twenty days covering individuals who have newly returned to Afghanistan or who complete the age of eighteen on Election Day or whose names have not been correctly entered in the previous voter list or moved from one area to other. According to the officials, those who previously registered but their names were missing in the voters list could also visit voter registration centers. Also, those who have gotten their voter stickers on national ID cards damaged could visit voter registration centers but the stickers already issued in Ghazni are not valid.
The main challenge to the election process is security issues in the country. According to official statistics from the Ministry of Interior 19 districts across the country are currently in control of the Taliban. While according to former Cigar reports the government has domination over 226 districts from total 407 districts which overall contain 65% of Afghanistan’s population. These statistics show that many Afghans were deprived of their right to vote and could not register in previous elections.
Currently, a total of 2,002 polling centers for the September election will not open because of security threats, as IEC officials said on Saturday. Thus, the official was quoted that a total of 7,385 polling centers have been registered in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan, of which 5,383 centers will open which means 27 percent of the polling centers will remain closed during the Election Day. Nevertheless, the Registration program is open in 33 provinces and 247 centers in Ghazni where parliamentary election failed to take place.
According to IEC officials, there is no possibility of opening polling centers where already deemed to remain closed. A total of 18 candidates including incumbent president Ashraf Ghani have registered to run in the upcoming election. Violence across Afghanistan continues despite six rounds of talks between US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban. The Taliban have previously carried out attacks targeting elections and election campaign resulted the 2018 parliamentary elections was the deadliest for civilians.
Anyway, the Independent Election Commission has launched the enrollment process so as to ensure that no eligible voters may not be deprived from their right to vote. The start of this process is a major step forward in holding the presidential election and will increase the hope of holding timely elections. In the other words, with this practical step the election process is becoming more serious and the doubts about holding the presidential election will also be eliminated. Accordingly, with the announcement of the presidential election schedule and secondly, start of the voter registration process, the responsibilities of the election commission’s are more specified to making the election commission move ahead with its announced calendar. 
As the presidential elections will be held on September of current year; therefore, all preparations must be made within the same timeframe, and the slowdown and procrastination of the electoral bodies should not delay the electoral process. However, the election process has already delayed and there are still challenges and questions that can cause the people doubt about the process. Therefore, the elections commissions need to note the following points in order to meet their designed electoral goals.
First, the people awareness and motivations had been considered as a main part of election program in the past elections but in the last parliamentary elections and also in coming presidential elections it has either decreased or removed from the process. The awareness-raising programs encourage the citizens to participate in the election, and, on the other hand, it aware the people about role and effects of election on their social and political lives. In the last election, a part of the problems that reduced the level of people’s participation was a lack of proper awareness and short period of time for campaign. Undoubtedly, if the elections commissions had provided enough information to the public through video, audio and print media, and encouraged them to vote, the number of people in the election was undoubtedly higher than that we saw. Therefore, if the Electoral Commission needs to include it as a significant part of its work plans and regularly calls people to the polls.
Second, the Presidential candidates, election bodies and other stakeholders should assist election commissions with providing constructive consultation in the election process. They should diagnose the weaknesses and shortcomings of the commissions which may harm the transparency of the elections. The Presidential candidates can play a very essential role in raising political awareness and make people more hopeful about their future. We should note that good election campaign is as important as election itself as it increases the level of political understanding in the country. Hence, the election commissions should allocate enough time for election campaign.
Lastly, Elections are the most important national programs which determine future of the nation. If we choose a wrong medical doctor we may kill only one body or few bodies but if we choose a wrong political doctor we may kill or destroy the future of entire nation. For that reason, people must be taught about the importance of elections as no good decision will be made in the darkness. They must know that nothing can replace election. The only alternatives to election are only war, sovereignty of ethnic and family-oriented system and overall social and political disorder. The people of Afghanistan have experienced all those situations in past and have endured their bloody and harmful consequences. Undoubtedly, people do not want to repeat the unfortunate circumstances of the past. So, the only way to overcome the unpleasant situations is to promote the values of democracy and people’s awareness in the country.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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