Afghanistan Runoff Elections from Space

By Ian Schuler on Jul 07 2014

On June 14 Afghans went to the polls to vote for a new President. As they voted, satellites overhead captured images of polling locations. High-resolution satellite images can be helpful in investigating election fraud.

This morning the IEC reported that over 8.1 million people went to the polls on June 14, a historically high turnout. At the same time, the IEC acknowledged that fraud occurred at polling locations around the country. Before releasing preliminary results, the IEC audited the results from 1,930 polling stations that reported 100% ballot submission.

We've pulled satellite imagery that captures the June 14 runoff elections. We mapped one set of imagery showing twelve polling centers at 11:26 AM local time on Election Day near Shindand in Herat Province.

Election day satellite imagery of twelve polling stations near Shindand

Four of these centers include stations that reported 599 or 600 ballots--more than one voter per minute. Processing, inking, and issuing ballots to 600 voters takes all day. One would expect to see lines and a steady flow of people at polling stations that returned the maximum number of ballots. Several of these locations include tents and buildings that will make it difficult to measure the number of people at the polling station. Still one would expect to see a steady flow of cars and foot traffic near polling stations that processed 600 voters. Our first look at the satellite imagery shows less activity than would be expected at polling centers with stations that returned the maximum number of votes.

June 14 satellite imagery of four polling stations that reported 599-600 votes

In comparison, at a building at an nearby air field we can see 38 vehicles and approximately 20 people around the facility.

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