The final results of the September 18 election in Afghanistan won’t be announced for days/weeks/ever, and so the 2502 candidates (including Safiullah Mujaddedi, wherever he is) must wait. On the surface, the elections seem to have gone better than 2009’s presidential election debacle; as Josh Foust has noted, violent incidents were down 37%, 92% of the polling places opened as planned, the IEC acted with greater independence, & etc. As much as we try to avoid single indicators, though, the most important figure of the election may be the at least 60% (more like 70%, according to some Afghan gov’t. figures) of the registered voters who wouldn’t or couldn’t vote in the election. In some places, like the relatively safe Kabul, turnout was light, and in the volatile South, some polling places never reported. In some cases, voters may have wanted to vote, but were prevented from doing so by the insurgents (such as in Marjah), and at least some of the voting total must be allotted to fraud.
Furthermore, the turnout has decreased from the 2009 election, when the low estimate of turnout was 40% (and the gov’t. estimates ran at around 50%). At least half the country voted then by not voting, and that number has grown. Whether the decline is due to fear of insurgent retribution, indifference, or anger, it is bad sign for Karzai. Before ISAF and GIRoA get too proud of the lower level of violence this year, they might take a hard look at why voter participation is declining.