'Indelible' Ink Washes Off, Afghan Candidates Charge

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2009 5:51 AM CDT
Afghan men wait on line to vote at a polling station in a mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009.   (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
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(Newser) – The supposedly indelible ink used to mark voters' fingers in today's Afghanistan election rubs off easily with household detergent, raising fears of widespread ballot fraud. Campaigners for Abdullah Abdullah, the main opposition candidate, found they could remove the ink with minimal effort, and a Guardian journalist scrubbed his finger clean in a matter of minutes. It could spell a big problem: As many as 3 million counterfeit voting cards are in circulation in Afghanistan.

Election organizers were humiliated in 2004 when they bought the wrong ink for that year's poll, and this time they went out of their way to arrange a photo op with the UN's mission head to prove its effectiveness. The Ashraf Ghani campaign said they had seen voters scrubbing their fingers clean already, but they are more concerned about pre-stuffed ballot boxes. In the insecure south, a spokeswoman claimed, "no one is going to go to these sorts of areas to check up on it."