Recounts Ordered at 2,500 Afghan Voting Sites

Total could drop Karzai low enough to require a run-off
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 15, 2009 7:48 AM CDT
Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) workers look for patterns of irregularities of the disputed ballots at Independent Elections Commission (IEC), in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Sept.13, 2009.   (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
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(Newser) – A UN-backed monitoring body ordered Afghanistan's election commission to recount ballots from about 10% of the country's polling stations because of suspicious totals in last month's presidential vote, the AP reports. The recount order raises the possibility that President Hamid Karzai's lead could drop below the 50% threshold, forcing the country to hold a runoff between Karzai and top challenger Abdullah Abdullah.

More than 2,500 polling sites out of 26,300 will need to be recounted, said the head of the Electoral Complaints Commission. Last week the commission ordered recounts and audits for stations that had 100% turnout or where a candidate received more than 95% of the valid votes. The ECC has already thrown out ballots from 83 polling stations because of fraud allegations, all in areas of support for Karzai.