And then yesterday, the UN-backed Election Complaints Commission announced that, yes, the elections were wildly fraudulent. Because of the massive delays, however, the runoff election won't be held until Nov. 7, which is winter in Afghanistan. This makes the runoff election an even greater logistical nightmare than the first round was.
How does the UN spin this? Let's hear it from the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon himself:
The important thing is, even though unfortunately fraudulence, widespread fraud has taken place, the measures we put in place had worked. We detected the fraud and we reported this fraud to the Security Council. ... Now, all these measures will be put in place again so that the mechanisms and measures will continue to work and function properly, so that we will prevent any further fraudulent practices and irregularities.
So the basic argument is this: we caught the fraud, so it's all good! A very clever job of spinning a complete system failure into a system success.
The SG went on to explain that the UN's role this time will be similar to the first round, and that the organization won't take Galbraith's advice and close polling stations in Taliban-run areas where basically all the votes from Aug. 23 were faked because security conditions rendered it impossible for real people to vote.
On the plus side, if there's fraud this time, the UN will be around to observe that it happened.