Kabul, April 9, 2012 — The Asia Foundation yesterday released findings from the Voter Behavior Survey of the 2010 Parliamentary Elections of Afghanistan. The Voter Behavior Survey provides a sense of the Afghan people’s understanding of the elections and election management bodies. As the international community and Afghan citizens prepare for the 2013 provincial council and 2014 presidential elections – significant components of the transition to Afghan-led security – the opinions and sentiments expressed in the survey by the people of Afghanistan offer noteworthy perspective.
The Voter Behavior Survey covers a population sample of 2,397 individuals from across the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. The fieldwork for the survey was conducted between March 14 and 31, 2011. Afghan citizens 18 years of age and older, both women and men, from different social, economic, and ethnic communities in rural and urban areas in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan were surveyed. Download the survey report.
Funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the survey was designed, directed, and edited by The Asia Foundation. Interviews were completed in person by 40 Afghan men and 40 women employed by the Peace Humanitarian Organization (PHO) in Kabul. The data aggregated can be analyzed according to age, gender, education, ethnicity, income, and geographic locale.
KEY FINDINGS FROM THE VOTER BEHAVIOR SURVEY OF THE 2010 PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS
• Eighty-five percent of the Voter Behavior Survey respondents say they had some or a lot of information about the 2010 parliamentary elections, although almost twice as many men (45%) had a lot of information compared to women (25%). More than twice as many women (12%) as men (5%) say they had no information about the elections.
• There is a clear correlation between people’s voting behaviour and the amount of information they had about the elections. People with a lot of information were more likely to cast their vote. Eighty-six percent of those who say they had a lot of information about the elections also voted in them, compared to 61% of those who say they had some information. On the other hand, 72% of those who say they had no information about the elections did not vote.
• “Transparent” elections are ones that take place in the presence of observers, media, and monitors. Over a third (38%) of respondents says the 2010 parliamentary elections were transparent, another 26% say they were not transparent, while 33% of the respondents are unable or unwilling to answer this question. Around half of the respondents with higher levels of education, including high school education (50%) and bachelor’s level (47%) think the elections were transparent. This percentage falls for those with lower levels of education including primary school (40%) and those who never went to school (35%).
• “Free” elections are ones where all people were able to vote as they wished. More than half (56%) of respondents say the elections were free while only 18% say they were not free. Almost a quarter (23%) of respondents says they do not know whether the 2010 elections were free or not. Eighty-seven percent of respondents from Central/Hazarajat (87%) think the elections were free, followed by around three quarters in the West (76%), while more than one-third of respondents in the South West (36%), and 30% in the South East say they were not free. The most common reasons for saying the elections were not free are threats to personal security (26%) and poor security (21%).
• “Fair” elections are ones in which all candidates and parties follow the rules, are given equal access to public channels of communication, and in which votes are counted honestly, without manipulation.A third (33%) of respondents think the elections were fair, while the same proportion (32%) thought they were not. Another 31% were not willing or able to give an opinion. Respondents with higher levels of education were willing to express an opinion about the fairness of the elections and were more likely to say that the elections were not fair. More than forty percent of those with secondary school (44%), university (42%), and high school level education (41%) say the elections were not fair. This percentage falls for those with lower levels of education including primary (34%) and those who never went to school (24%). It is not surprising, given women’s lower levels of education, more men (37%) than women (28%) think the recent parliamentary elections were fair. At least half of the respondents who say the recent elections were not fair say this is because there was fraud (51%).
• Just under a fifth (19%) of respondents feel the performance of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was good and the same proportion (19%) feel their performance was satisfactory. The same proportion again (19%) was not satisfied with the role played by the IEC. However, 39% of respondents do not know or are not able or willing to provide an opinion.
• Twelve percent of respondents think the performance of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) was good during the 2010 parliamentary elections, while almost the same percentage (13%) say their performance was satisfactory. However, another 23% found the performance of the ECC unsatisfactory. Significantly, just under half of respondents (47%) do not give an assessment of the performance of the ECC. In contrast to the assessment of IEC, where a higher proportion of those with a Bachelors degree or higher had a positive assessment of the institution, a higher proportion of well educated people have a negative assessment of the ECC. Among those with a Bachelors degree and higher, as high as 29% assess the performance of the ECC as unsatisfactory.
• The majority of respondents (54%) do not give any assessment of the performance of the UN and the International Community during the 2010 parliamentary elections. Thirteen percent say the UN/IC performed well and 12% say their performance was satisfactory. Seventeen percent say the performance of the UN and IC was unsatisfactory. Among those who never went to school, 8% assess the performance of UN/IC as good and as high as 62% say “I do not know”. Among those who have completed a Bachelors level or higher, 32% assess the performance of UN/IC as good and only 26% say, “I do not know”.
• The most frequent suggestion for improving elections in the future, given by around a little less than half of respondents (45%), is to improve security. Other suggestions include ensuring that elections should be transparent and free of any fraud or bribery (16%), increasing public awareness (11%), increasing the level of education amongst the people (7%) and ensuring that the IEC should be comprised of honest and sincere individuals (6%). Almost twice as many women (14%) as men (8%) mention raising public awareness of elections.