Afghan Youth Ink Fingers to Promote Participation
 
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News - Election 2014

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In a symbolic showing of their intention to vote in Saturday's elections, and in attempt to encourage others to participate, members of the Youth Activist Network for Reform and Change on Monday announced that they would keep their fingers stained with ink everyday until polls open.

Afghan youth make up an overwhelming portion of the country's population, and they are expected to play a major role in determining the results of this year's presidential and provincial council elections.

"The goal behind coloring our fingers is to encourage people - the youth, women and men - to go to polling centers and vote," said Ezatullah Masood, a member of the Youth Activist Network for Reform and Change.

The inked fingers of the youth activists represent a marking that all voters will bear come Saturday after they go through the voting process that requires them to leave an inked fingerprint alongside the picture and name of their chosen candidate.

With militants having vowed to disrupt the elections, which are expected to yield Afghanistan's first democratic transition of presidential power in history, the symbolic act of the Youth Activist Network is in effect one of defiance.

"Even if the Taliban and Al-Qaeda cut off my hand or finger, as a youth, I will still take part in the elections," said Sangar Amirzaizada, another member of the Youth Activist Network. A number of the group's members on Monday claimed foreign intelligence agencies were the ones looking to derail the elections.

Attacks on civilians, campaign teams and election officials have ramped-up as Saturday's vote nears. But many signs indicate Afghans have only been made more determined to vote in response to the violence, with lines at voter registration centers getting longer and longer by the day.

"No one can change people's determination and right to vote, we will go to polling centers even if we get killed," spokesman of Youth Activist Network Said Maisam Ehsan said.

The young Afghans voting in this year's elections have come of age in the post-Taliban, democratic Afghanistan. Many of them feel tied to the progress that has been made over the past decade and are determined to see it move forward.

"We must vote to change our destiny, even if our fingers are cut off," another activist named Attaullah Weesa said.

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