The Afghan government is considering the Single Non-Transferable Vote (SNTV) system for the elections, however political parties and movements have asked for the use of the multi-dimensional representation (MDR) for the elections.
The SNTV is an electoral system used in multi-member constituency elections. In any election, each voter casts one vote for one candidate in a multi-candidate race for multiple offices. Posts are filled by the candidates with the most votes. Thus, in a three-seat constituency, the three candidates receiving the largest number of votes would win office.
The cost of the SNTV system is less but analysts said it has more defects.
It is believed that the system will mostly benefit independent candidates.
“In total, it (the SNTV system) increases complications, votes are wasted and finally in this system, parliament will not be party-based. It means that parliament groups cannot be better formed under this system,” said Mohammad Naeem Ayubzada, head of the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan.
With the MDR system, a vote can be transferred from one candidate to another which makes it different from the SNTV system. In this system, political parties and independent candidates will compete. In this system, political parties can have one candidate or they can introduce a candidate in coalition with other parties.
Independent candidates meanwhile can compete alone or they can take part in the election in collaboration with other independent candidates.
With the MDR system, if a party has at least 10 candidates, their candidates votes- that exceed the required number- can be transferred to other candidates from the same party. The same can be applied to independent candidates if they make an agreement.
“You put forward four options for a voter (under the MDR system) – a candidate from a party, a total of candidates who make a coalition and a total of parties who make a coalition. The voter selects one of them,” said Yusuf Rasheed, CEO of Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan.
Electoral watchdog organizations said the MDR system has its complications and is not applicable considering the little time remaining to October parliamentary elections.
“We brought up the issue almost ten months ago but they didn’t hear. Now they say that they will ignore this and that they have a limited time. We will continue bringing up this issue,” said Mohammad Natiqi, head of the political committee of the National Coalition of Afghanistan.
This comes as President Ashraf Ghani directed the Central Statistic Organization (CSO) to use “modern technology” to specify the exact number of voters who will cast their votes at polling stations on election day.
According to Ghani’s decree issued last week, the CSO should cooperate with the Independent Election Commission (IEC), security agencies and other relevant institutions in determining the exact number of registered voters.
In the decree, the Ministry of Finance and the National Procurement Authority have been ordered to cooperate with the CSO and other departments in the allocation of budget and procurement for the technology.
Afghanistan's Central Civil Registration Authority (ACCRA) meanwhile said they are ready to help the CSO determine the voter numbers.
The decree does not state details about whether a biometric system will be used to identify voters on election day.
The Independent Election Commission has said that over nine million voters have registered their names for the upcoming elections, but a number of political parties have repeatedly claimed that less than five million voters have registered their names.
The parties said government and the election commission want to manipulate the upcoming elections.
The election commission however said the new presidential decree says that a biometric system should be used to ensure transparency of the upcoming elections.
The political parties so far have held a few meetings with government and the election commission over issues around elections including the use of a biometric system for voters. Recently they gave government and the election commission a two-week deadline to provide the ground for the use of a biometric system on election day, a change in the election system and an approach for monitoring of electoral processes.
The parties have warned if the voting process is not transparent, they will not accept the election and will close electoral commission offices in Kabul and provinces.