Afghan Fraud Panel Tosses Votes From 83 Stations
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 10, 2009 8:10 AM CDT
In this photo taken Sunday, Sept. 6, 2009, Afghans are seen standing in front of a billboard of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's top political challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, in Kabul.   (Manish Swarup)
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(Newser) – The UN-backed commission investigating fraud in Afghanistan's presidential election has thrown out ballots from 83 polling stations across the country, all of them in areas with strong support for President Hamid Karzai. The president currently has more than 50% of the preliminary count. But if the commission throws out enough votes—it's not clear whether today's decision will do the trick—he could drop below 50% and be forced into a run-off.

The Aug. 20 poll has been increasingly marred by reports of ballot-box stuffing and suspicious tallies. A US monitoring group has said "large numbers of polling stations" had more than 100% turnout, and Karzai's top challenger has accused him of "state-engineered" fraud. The commission threw out ballots at 51 sites in Kandahar, 27 in Ghazni, and five in Paktika. All three provinces are dominated by ethnic Pashtuns, and Karzai himself is an ethnic Pashtun.