ANTI FRAUD MEASURES. Principles

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1 ANTI FRAUD MEASURES The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan is implementing a number of anti fraud measures to protect the integrity of the election process and ensure that election results are accepted as credible by the people of Afghanistan. The following document provides an overview of anti fraud measures planned by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) for the upcoming 2010 Wolesi Jirga election. Anti fraud measures include fraud mitigation measures and fraud detection measures which are built on international best practices and specific lessons learned from previous Afghan elections. Although many are outlined below, some are not publicized to prevent efforts to circumvent them. Additional measures may be put in place depending on need and feasibility. An important caveat: electoral fraud is primarily a problem relating to political and security conditions. Measures taken serve to deter and detect but not eliminate fraud. The first line of protection is always the integrity of those involved in the process, including electoral management bodies, polling staff, political parties, candidates, observers, and voters themselves. Principles Anti fraud measures are built around four principles: 1. Highest quality materials 2. Strict controls on movement and handling of sensitive materials 3. Procedures which discourage fraud and ensure its detection 4. Maximum transparency in particular scrutiny of observers and agents, as well as media to maximize detection of error or malfeasance, and to increase confidence. Highest Quality of Materials Because election materials are of such great importance and often required to have specific anti fraud safeguards built into them, they are produced by highly specialized companies according to detailed specifications. Specifications are produced by the IEC with the input of the international electoral assistance team, taking into account international standards and best practices, as well as lessons learned from past elections. In 2010, for instance, special attention is paid to ensuring indelible ink is of the highest quality and that hole punches are functional. A competitive procurement process ensures that specifications are conveyed to the company, and samples ensure that companies are able to meet these specifications. All suppliers must adhere to the delivery timeline set out by the IEC. Strict Materials Controls The quantity of polling materials, and in particular sensitive material, is based on best estimates of voter populations in each polling centre area, combined with lessons learned from Strict procedures are in place to guard and track sensitive materials and verify legitimate use. Sensitive materials may be observed by agents and observers throughout the entire process, including during storage, handover and movement. This includes at polling places, secured IEC warehouses in Kabul, provinces and districts, and at the tally center. Although not all agents and observers are able to follow materials and boxes during transport, measures are in place (including numbered seals on ballot boxes; tamper evident bags for results sheets) which allow confirmation that materials were not tampered with during transport. Updated: 28 August 2010

2 Numerous Procedural Safeguards at All Stages of the Process Every stage of the election process is subject to a raft of procedures designed to ensure the effectiveness and transparency of the election. These include, for example, ensuring sensitive materials are adequately accounted for at all stages of distribution and retrieval, that counting is standardized and conducted in a transparent manner, and that tallying is not able to be manipulated by any individual staff member. Procedural safeguards able to be disseminated outside the IEC are outlined below. Maximum Transparency A transparent process is the best way of detecting irregularities, and of encouraging trust and confidence in the process. The IEC provides accurate and timely information to observers/agents/media within its capacity for instance procedures and polling center lists to enable them to fully understand the process and therefore carry out their duties. Observers and agents. The IEC accredits thousands Afghan and international observers, and hundreds of thousands of candidates and entity agents. Procedures ensure agents and observers can follow closely all aspects of the process, including polling, counting and tally procedures as well as the movement, storage and retrieval of all materials. Press and Media. The IEC accredits hundreds of national and international journalists to follow the process. Following polling and counting the IEC addresses, within its ability, any issues brought to its attention by any of these groups. Where possible, the IEC carries out investigations and provides these groups with feedback on the findings of any investigations. Anti Fraud Measures This section outlines specific measures taken to both discourage and detect fraud. All major stages of the election process are covered: 1. Preparation of Materials 2. Recruitment of District and Polling Staff 3. Polling Locations 4. Polling 5. Counting 6. Transfer of Materials and Results 7. Results Tabulation 8. Preliminary Results 9. Audits Preparation of Materials Consistent with the principles laid out above, the procurement process is focused on ensuring the highest quality materials are available in time for the 2010 elections. Examples of measures ensuring high quality of materials are listed below: To ensure the quality of materials, such as indelible ink, samples are requested from suppliers prior to contract signing. In the case of hole punches which malfunctioned in 2009, a higherquality was sought and tested prior to entering into a contract with a supplier. Indelible ink procured for polling contains the highest concentration of active ingredient considered safe for use on human skin. Independent laboratory testing is carried out at different locations and at different times by the supplier prior to signing contracts. 2

3 Sensitive materials such as ballot papers and result forms are printed at known secure printing houses to ensure careful control of print quantities and the integrity of these materials. A number of ballot security features are included to ensure it is not possible to reproduce the ballots. These features are not publicly revealed to ensure they cannot be compromised. Additional safeguards, including additional serial numbers, barcodes, and tracking systems, are in place to ensure materials are more tightly controlled: Printed material (e.g. manuals, forms and reporting matrixes) are designed to stress the importance of polling station coding, including the gender and Kuchi designation. IEC includes the ballot paper pack serial numbers on the ballot papers. Each batch of six hundred ballot papers contains a unique serial number. This allows the IEC to track ballot papers in case some batches are misplaced or otherwise lost. In 2010 the IEC decided to barcode ballot packs and tamper evident bags. Using barcode readers and a specific database developed for this purpose, the IEC is able to track these materials from IEC headquarters to polling centre level. This system facilitates tracking from IEC headquarters to the polling center level, as well as from the polling centers to provincial warehouses, and finally to the tally center in Kabul. To allow the process to unfold as described above, tamper evident bags no longer come prepacked in polling center kits, but are received in bulk at IEC headquarters and are individually allocated to and placed in polling center kits. Each bar coded polling center kit (one or more blue boxes depending on the number of polling stations and size of the ballot papers), is accompanied by a handover form and waybill. The movement of the polling center kits and all sensitive election materials is carefully controlled with integrity checking before handover and signing at each stage of the process. Sensitive contingency material is packed according to the procedures outlined above. No transfer from station to station or allocation of extra ballots is allowed. Should one polling station run out ballots on Election Day, the provincial office upon approval by IEC headquarters dispatches a new team with materials to the polling center. This avoids any movement of ballots from one station to another. Prior to the packing of the polling center kits (which contain the ballot papers) all materials are stored at the IEC warehouse with strict security and limited access. Only IEC staff involved in packing materials, and members of the international electoral assistance team are permitted access to sensitive election materials. For maximum transparency, observers and agents are encouraged to be present at warehouses to monitor compliance with the above procedures. Recruitment of District and Polling Staff The IEC intends that district and polling staff should adhere to the IEC principles of independence and impartiality. They are the first line of defense in ensuring the process is carried out in a credible manner. Provincial Electoral Officers and other provincial staff. On 3 March 2010, the IEC Secretariat agreed to relocate several Provincial Electoral Officers in order to distance them from their power and patronage networks, thus allowing them to better maintain their independence and integrity amidst extreme pressure from various quarters. Due to the highly technical knowledge these staff possess, relocation is preferred rather than removal. District Staff. In early 2010, the IEC conducted an inquiry into district and polling staff based on reports from the ECC. Six thousand staff were identified who were allegedly involved in fraud and/or misconduct in It is the intent of the IEC that these staff not be re recruited. The 3

4 new list of staff is cross checked by a committee at IEC headquarters against the 6,000 names. The IEC gives preference, as much as possible, to literate staff for all four polling station positions, and to female staff for female polling stations. Finally, the IEC plans to capture the photos of District Field Coordinators and Voter Educators on their contracts, in order to ensure the IEC and the police/judiciary can identify district staff should an investigation be warranted. Training packages for all temporary staff include one section on the IEC code of conduct and their responsibilities when encountered with wrongdoing and involvement in fraud. The IEC code of conduct for all temporary staff was reviewed by the IEC to ensure it properly outlines responsibility and accountability of staff. All staff are required to sign and expected to abide by the obligations laid out in the code of conduct. Polling Locations The criteria for opening polling centers is stricter in 2010, in order to avoid planning polling stations in unsecure areas where fraud and misconduct are more likely. The list of polling centers is finalized at least one month prior to Election Day. No material is dispatched to polling centers which, in best estimate of the security forces and the IEC, cannot be opened. A preliminary polling center list was provided to national and international security forces in March Security forces visit the suggested polling centers and provide feedback to the IEC on whether adequate conditions exist for convoys, staff and materials to be secured. Using District Field Coordinators, IEC further evaluates polling center locations based on accessibility of polling centers, recruitment of staff, and mobility in the area of responsibility. This two tiered assessment is intended to determine whether the conditions exist for polling centers to be opened, and to reduce the possibility of manipulation of polling center locations. Final decisions on polling centers lie with the IEC. Polling Election Day is the most visible part of the election process, and the most vulnerable. A series of safeguards are in place to ensure fraud at the ballot box is minimized. Voters are required to produce photographic identification (voter registration cards) to vote. As in 2009, this is not possible for all women due to cultural issues. The voter registration card of each voter is punched to ensure the card cannot be used again. No proxy voting (voting on behalf of another person) is permitted. The voter identification number of all voters is recorded. Amongst other things, this is used to investigate suspect results or results from centers where complaints have been received. All voters are marked with indelible ink to prevent multiple voting. Special ballot stamps (with a unique and confidential identification stamp) are used to mark the back of ballots as they are issued to voters. Only ballots with this stamp are counted. This helps prevent introduction of fraudulent ballots. Translucent ballot boxes are used to allow observers and political entity agents to see the ballots being cast (yet maintain the secrecy of the vote). This measure assists in detecting tampered boxes; all sealing and unsealing of ballot boxes takes place in the presence of observers and political entity agents. Special numbered seals are used on the ballot boxes; these seal numbers are recorded upon opening and close of polling and on re opening when the count begins any discrepancy is recorded and an investigation initiated that can result in that ballot box and its contents being excluded from the results; observers and entity agents may also record these numbers and report any discrepancy. Agents present will sign the form confirming the serial numbers of seals. 4

5 Empty ballot boxes at polling stations are sealed in the presence of candidate agents/observers (provided they are present) before the commencement of the polls. This guarantees that the ballot boxes are empty prior to polling. The secrecy of the vote is maintained by voting screens, behind which a voter marks their ballot. Ballots are provided in pads with unique serial numbers. All polling stations must account for all ballots (ballots issued must equal ballots cast/spoiled plus unused ballots) on special forms to be verified once during the count and again during tabulation in Kabul. Serial numbers cannot be traced to individual voters, to assure secrecy. Voters are informed exactly what to expect and what to do when in a polling station by IEC polling staff. Polling staff receive training on polling procedures and all IEC staff sign a code of conduct that, if breached, can result in legal and professional consequences. To ensure more accurate reporting in 2010, therefore enhancing transparency, the two main polling forms reconciliation and results are consolidated into one form. Counting Counting is carried out immediately after polling at the same location the polling station in full view of party/candidate agents and observers. There is no movement of ballots and materials prior to counting, and thus no opportunity for tampering of ballot boxes while in transit and prior to counting. Agents and observers may watch the ballot boxes all day and throughout the count. Special procedures are developed to count and reconcile all ballots cast with the number of ballots issued to that station; if there is a discrepancy, the count continues but the result is not included in the final results in Kabul until the matter is investigated. All ballots are counted and displayed in front of observers and entity agents and are double counted to ensure accuracy. To minimize the possibility of tampering with the result sheets in 2010, the number of votes for each candidate is entered both in numbers and letters, and tamper evident tape is applied to the results on all four copies of the reconciliation/result sheet. Once the count is completed the results are immediately made public at the polling station. Additionally, some of the party/candidate agents receive copies of the results. Observers and agents and voters are encouraged to copy the results from the public display. This can be checked against the results posted at the tally centre and on the IEC results website. Transfer of Materials and Results From polling stations to district offices Once the count is completed at the polling stations, all materials are handed over to the IEC District Field Coordinators (DFCs). Observers and agents may observe the handover and accompany the transfer of materials to the provincial offices. Those that cannot accompany materials may check seal numbers and tamper evident bags on arrival to ensure the materials remained secure during transit. All materials are retrieved to the IEC provincial office or warehouse. Intake procedures and forms are produced to ensure all materials are accounted for. Any discrepancies, damaged or potentially tampered material are reported. The process of intake is open to observers and agents. From provincial offices to IEC headquarters Results tabulation is done centrally to ensure control and scrutiny, including by agents and observers. Therefore tamper evident bags, with results forms, are transported to Kabul. Ballot 5

6 boxes remain sealed in IEC provincial and district warehouses, under strict security and full observation. They can be therefore accessed if necessary for recounts, audits or other verification measures if ordered by IEC or ECC. Reports from the field on the retrieval progress are compared with the number of polling station result forms received at the tally center to identify the districts where the accumulation of results forms is occurring. These are followed up and where unreasonable delays occur investigations may ensue. In 2010, the provincial intake procedures were redrafted in order to address shortfalls in the 2009 intake process. Procedures are more detailed and a greater number of staff are engaged in the process. Reports are enhanced by using documents containing pre formatted information. Results Tabulation The national tally center is used to ensure that all results are accurately recorded and entered into the results database. The process is planned around maximum transparency, allowing full observation of national and international observers, party agents, and members of the media. The key safeguard measures are outlined below. Enlargement of the IEC tally center ensures adequate space is available to conduct an orderly intake and provide secure storage and archiving facilities for tamper evident bags. The tally process uses a discreet seven step process broken into three separate phases: (a) intake of tamper evident bags (b) batching and (c) tabulations of results. The clear division into phases allows stricter control on the overall process and accountability of different staff at all stages of the process. The process is fully explained to observers, agents and the press. Each step of the process is performed at a separate station with dedicated data entry staff and supervisor. All users of the software have restricted access for the integrity and protection of the data. Suspicious or incomplete shipments of results forms from provincial offices are quarantined and investigated. Any tamper evident bags that appear to have forms missing, where forms are obviously filled in incorrectly, or where there are reasons to suspect the accuracy of any forms, are quarantined for investigation prior to being entered into the database. To ensure the validity and integrity of the data being entered into the system, software designed for the data entry process performs mathematical and quality control checks to identify any suspicious or problematic results. In order to reduce the data entry errors, a double blind data entry model is planned. Any discrepancy between the two data entries is automatically flagged for review and correction. A further quality control process is carried out both randomly and on forms identified as problematic. As they are produced by the tally center, consolidated results are checked by an operations group before being presented to the IEC Chief Electoral Office and IEC Commissioners. This group consists of senior IEC staff. This group liaises closely with observer groups, party/candidate agents and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) to ensure maximum information sharing and to identify irregularities or potential fraud. The operations group also advises the IEC Commissioners if it appears any investigations should be carried out with regards to any results sheets received. The IEC Commissioners certify any results they deem appropriate. Any results that the Commissioners are not prepared to certify are investigated by the IEC. 6

7 Preliminary Results Once the IEC Commissioners decide which results are certified, the tally center prepares these results for release. These results are preliminary certified results. The results, by polling station, are announced to the public and distributed at the Media Center to political parties, candidates, observers and the media. The results are also displayed on the IEC website. Candidates, agents and voters can compare these results with the results they received at the polling stations and if there is any discrepancy they may ask the IEC to investigate or lodge a complaint with the ECC. Audits The IEC carries out audits of electoral material and results following the conclusion of polling and counting. Audits involve the checking of retrieved material at the provincial offices/warehouses and in some cases doing recounts of station ballot papers. The results of any audits are presented to the IEC Commissioners. If evidence of fraud is detected, the IEC Commissioners may disqualify specific results, or quarantine results pending further investigation, including by possible referral to the ECC. 7

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