Militant violence is the main concern as Afghanistan prepares to go to the polls on Sunday. Millions of voters are expected to turn out despite the threat of attack to cast their ballots in the parliamentary and provincial council elections.
But illiteracy is also a problem. “Most people are illiterate,” says one man, “so it will be difficult for them to recognise their favourite candidate.” “It’s going to be a problem, added another, “we are going to need someone to help out these people at the polling stations.”
Peter Erben who is the chief electoral officer in Afghanistan agrees but adds that measures have been taken to try and clarify the process:
“I think illiterate voters will have problems and we have done everything we could to mitigate this, for example by putting out a black and white sample ballot in advance of election day to show voters what it will look like when they come in on the day.” Campaigning is now over and voters have the complex task of choosing from the nearly 6,000 candidates involved. Many observers say though the election is not going to be perfect – it is an historic achievement in a country facing its next crucial test in democracy.