William & Mary assistant professor of government Rani Mullen served as an international observer for Afghanistan's most recent election -a presidential contest held in late August. Mullen was among approximately 80 observers in the country with Democracy International (DI). Though she witnessed few fraudulent conditions, she fears her observations in Kabul, the nation's capital, were not indicative of electoral conditions across the country.
Democracy International wasn't the only American group in Afghanistan to observe the election, just the second presidential contest held by the fledgling democracy. Mullen said in addition to DI, National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI) also had observers on the ground. Mullen estimates she was among some 130 U.S. observers in the country most of whom, like her, were volunteers. And concedes the election she witnessed was not the election everyone saw.
"Essentially I think what happened was that there were two elections," Mullen recently told WHRV public radio host Cathy Lewis on her weekday program, HearSay.
She said one type of election took place in the polling places in some urban areas, like the ones she observed in the nation's capital Kabul, where security was good, domestic and international observers were present and voting procedures were largely followed.
The other sort of election took place in locations away from the capital or larger cities, that were not secure and that appear to have been rife with fraudulent procedures including double (and sometimes worse) voting. She chronicled her observations and experiences in an online blog.