Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan

Guidelines for Observers, Candidate Agents and Media

100% Audit Of 2014 Run-Off Election Results:

INTRODUCTION

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) is Afghanistan’s sole national authority, responsible for implementing elections, and for certifying and announcing election results. 

These guidelines are intended to preserve the integrity of audit procedures so that final election results reflect the will of the Afghan people, as expressed on the ballots they have cast. 

  1. CONTEXT

    The IEC will conduct an extensive audit of all ballots cast on the day of the 2014 Presidential Election run-off (held 14 June).  Almost 22,828 ballot boxes (8,109,493 ballots) will be collected from every province in the nation and delivered to the IEC headquarters in Kabul.  This large-scale, in-depth audit will better position the IEC to:

    • Distinguish valid from invalid votes;
    • Produce results that most accurately reflect the will of Afghans, as expressed on their ballots; and
    • Determine a legitimate national leader. 

    Supported by both Presidential Candidates and the international community, including the United Nations, it is also seen as a way to build national confidence in the institution of democracy and in the value of peaceful elections.

  2. AUDIT OVERVIEW

    The audit will be conducted at the IEC headquarters, from 7am – 6pm, every day, with the exception of the Eid holiday.  Audit procedures will be performed simultaneously, by 100 audit teams working in two shifts (7am – 12pm; and 1pm – 6pm).  Each audit team will include two IEC staff members, whose work will be actively observed by national and international election observers, and agents of both Presidential Candidates.

    The audit will be conducted according to international best practices.  Criteria for determining validity of votes will include those already in place, as well as additional criteria, recommended by the United Nations, and agreed upon by both candidates.

    The IEC will publish audit findings regularly, throughout the duration of the exercise.  According to the Afghan Electoral Law, either candidate and any of their agents may lodge an official complaint within 24 hours of an audit publication; and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission is required to address that complaint within 48 hours of receipt.

  3. ACCREDITATION OF NEWLY-JOINED ELECTION OBSERVERS AND CANDIDATE AGENTS

    All IEC-accredited election observers, candidate agents and media should retain their original accreditation cards; and will be facilitated to enter into the IEC premises, to observe audit activities. 

    Anticipating greater involvement of international observers and candidate agents, the IEC will offer an accelerated accreditation process, to facilitate them. 

    Prospective international observers and candidate agents are requested to have their respective organizations/candidates notify the IEC, prior to their arrival in Afghanistan.  A brief email may be sent to:

    Senior Accreditation Officer, Sikandar Dawran
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Mobile: +93 (0) 799 156 211 

    Upon arrival, they may apply directly to the Accreditation Office, located within the IEC headquarters in Kabul. 

    Applicants should provide the Accreditation Officer with two passport-sized photographs and a letter of introduction from their respective organization.

  4. ENTRY TO THE IEC COMPOUND

    All those who are already accredited will be able to enter the IEC compound, upon presentation of their accreditation badges.  New applicants (who have yet to receive their badges), will be facilitated by External Relations staff, whose contact information is as follows:

    Senior Media Officer, Marzia Seddiqi Salim
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
    Mobile: +93 (0) 790 69 21 62

    Observation Facilitation Officer, Nooria Rahmati
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Mobile: +93 (0) 790 69 21 59

    Media Assistant, Shabnam Hazrati
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
    Mobile: +93 (0) 790 46 88 51

    Please note that new applicants will be required to provide the following details, at least an hour in advance of their intended arrival:

    • Time of visit;
    • Purpose of visit;
    • Full names of all visitors, including identification number and type; and
    • Make, model, color and plate number of each vehicle to enter the compound.

    Visitors should also indicate whether they will be accompanied by close protection.

  5. GENERAL CONDUCT

    All accredited agents, observers and media may be present at the IEC headquarters and may observe the audit of election results, provided that they do not disrupt or interfere in the process.  In addition, they are required to: 

    • Ensure that their accreditation badges are easily visible;
    • Respect the sovereignty of the IEC as the sole electoral authority responsible for declaring election results;
    • Respect the Election Law, all other relevant laws, procedures and official IEC Decisions;
    • Conduct themselves according to the relevant codes of conduct;
    • Share any complaints or observation of irregularities through official means, and request that the on-site UN official clarify queries;
    • Refrain from sharing complaints or observations with the public or media;
    • Refrain from making judgments or repeating results or figures, issued by non-official sources;
    • Refrain from creating, repeating or contributing to rumors; and
    • Avoid the use of words or statements that are divisive, discriminatory or that contribute to racial, tribal, regional, sectarian, sexual or religious tensions.

    The IEC reserves the right to revoke the accreditation of any entity or individual who violates the Electoral Law, decisions of the IEC or IECC; whose candidate or organization requests the cancelation of his or her accreditation; or in the case of the withdrawal of the organization or candidate he or she represents.

  6. GUIDELINES FOR OBSERVERS

    Upon presentation of their badges, all accredited candidate agents are entitled to enter the IEC compound to observe the audit.

    Observers are expected to conduct themselves impartially and should refrain from interfering in the electoral process.  They must not handle any election materials; or attempt to exert influence over audit teams or any other electoral staff.

    Observers should refrain from distracting or engaging the attention of audit teams.  They should refrain from using cameras, recording devices or the Internet, while inside the IEC compound. They may keep their mobile telephones on hand, but are requested to keep them on silent mode. 

    Observers may, if necessary, ask auditors to provide clarification or explain their actions.

    In the case that an observer witnesses irregular conduct or the violation of any law or regulation, he or she may approach any United Nations staff member, available in every building in which audits are being conducted. 

    Observers are entitled to record detailed accounts of the manner in which the audit is conducted, including infractions of laws, regulation or international election standards; raise questions; and document any irregularities they have observed.  Observer reports may be published.

  7. GUIDELINES FOR CANDIDATE AGENTS

    Upon presentation of their badges, all accredited candidate agents are entitled to enter the IEC compound to observe the audit.

    While agents are understood to act in the interest of the particular candidate they represent, they may not impede, obstruct or interfere in the audit process.  They must not handle any election materials, or attempt to exert influence over audit teams or any other electoral staff.

    Agents should refrain from distracting or engaging the attention of audit teams.  They should refrain from using cameras, recording devices or the Internet, while inside the IEC compound. They may keep their mobile telephones on hand, but are requested to keep them on silent mode. 

    Agents may, if necessary, ask auditors to provide clarification or explain their actions.

    In the case that an agent observes irregular conduct or witnesses the violation of any law or regulation, he or she may approach any United Nations staff member, available in every building in which audits are being conducted. 

    Any complaints related to the audit process should be brought to the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission, within 24 hours of having occurred. 

    Agents must strictly refrain from sharing their observations or divulging sensitive to the public or media.

    Both inside the IEC and outside, agents should refrain from making statements that are judgmental, accusatory, divisive or that may potentially lead to violence.

  8. GUIDELINES FOR MEDIA

    According to the Code of Conduct for the Media, accredited media institutions may be present at all stages of the electoral process.

    Media visits to the IEC will be facilitated by IEC External Relations staff, upon request and according to demand.  In order to arrange their visits, media should contact one of the two following staff members:

    Senior Media Officer, Marzia Seddiqi Salim
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
    Mobile: +93 (0) 790 69 21 62

    Media Assistant, Shabnam Hazrati
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Mobile: +93 (0) 790 46 88 51

    Media may bring cameras and video equipment into the audit area.  However, they will be required to photograph or film from non-obtrusive vantage points, to avoid causing distraction to audit teams or compromising sensitive data.

    Similarly, media should respect Afghan culture and the safety of election staff, and avoid photos or film in which individuals may be identified, unless first receiving the permission of those they wish to feature.

    In appreciation of the important task at hand, media is requested to refrain from discussion and engagement with those involved in the exercise – particularly audit teams, candidate agents and observers, whose full attention is critical.  External Relations staff will remain on hand and is poised to assist journalists to obtain any information they should require.

    In accord with the Media Code of Conduct, media should respect the roles and decisions of the IEC and IECC, as well as the Media Commission; and should prepare all reports with impartiality.