From July to mid-September 2015, I served as a core team leader for an observation mission of the Afghanistan Presidential Election Audit. The second round of the presidential election was filled with irregularities and fraud, prompting the losing candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, to challenge the results. With the country on the verge of civil war, the international community brokered an unprecedented 100% audit of all cast ballots. For nearly three months straight, seven days a week, my team, along with many others, observed a UN administered audit of each ballot box.
Each box was counted in one of five warehouses in the Afghan Independent Election Commission's (IEC) compound on Jalalabad road in Kabul. The warehouses were dusty with poor hygiene, and shifts lasted as long as 16 plus hours a day. The work load was frantic and tense, but IEC staff pushed through knowing that continued delays threatened the future of their country.
While dedication of the Afghan election commission staff was inspiring, the political nature of the exercise failed conclusively determine a realistic vote total based on voter intent. The final outcome was never released and a peace deal gave shared power to both candidates.
Presidential Elections In Indoneisa
In June 2014, Indonesia held presidential elections to replace term-limited incumbent Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. I was a teacher for a study tour on election standards that observed this election in Jakarta. Elections in Indonesia are a remarkable spectacle. Voting stops at 12:00 noon. While this would seem disastrous in most countries, it proved more than sufficient in such a well-run election. Votes were counted in the open and each polling station became a small community celebration watching the counting process. Of course, this was all in the capital of Jakarata; the process was probably not nearly as smooth in other areas of the country such as Ache.
The mood in Jakarta was festive. Their mayor, Joko "Jokowi"Widodo, won the election. Not only did Jakarta love their mayor, but they saw it as a turning point for the new democracy as he became the first president without any ties to the autocratic Suharto regime.
A woman dips her finger in indelible ink after voting. A common method in many countries (as well as being one of the most symbolic) this practice is one available mechanism for preventing double voting. It is especially useful if a country lacks a reliable voter registry.
The media films the vote counting, which took place outside.
A voter checks the board with the voter registry and candidate information.
Turkey Local Authority General Elections
On March 30 2014, Turkey held subnational elections for various municipal posts. I was in Istanbul at the time.
Supporters of the opposition Republican People's Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, CHP) at a rally in Istanbul.
A poster for CHP candidate Mustafa Sarigul, for the mayor or Istanbul. CHP supporters were optimistic that Sarigul was there best shot at winning the important position (President Erdogan was once Istanbul mayer). However, the incumbent, Kadir Topbas, of the ruling AKP, retained his post.
The Shores of Tripoli
Taking photographs in Libya was difficult, even before the recent outbreak of violence. The legacy of Qaddafi's police state made people understandably suspicious, and it was an uneasy environment. Despite this, Tripoli is a beautiful city and hopefully one that will get through its current situation.