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Half a million Afghan ballots may be probed: election body

Up to half a million ballots cast in Afghanistan's fraud-tarnished polls could be quarantined and investigated over alleged irregularities, an election commission spokesman said on Friday.

world Updated: Sep 11, 2009 23:33 IST

Up to half a million ballots cast in Afghanistan's fraud-tarnished polls could be quarantined and investigated over alleged irregularities, an election commission spokesman said on Friday.

Afghans went to the polls in their second direct presidential election on August 20, but the vote has been marred by low turnout and widespread allegations of ballot-stuffing, intimidation and other fraud.

Independent Election Commission (IEC) spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor told AFP that 447 polling stations, or 200,000 ballots, had already been quarantined.

"It will go up to 660 polling stations. Maybe it will go up to 500,000 ballot papers," he said.

Stations under suspicion would be referred for investigation to the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), which has the power to order the IEC to exclude ballots from the final election tally.

The IEC hopes to announce preliminary results tomorrow, but the scale of fraud allegations means any final announcement of the official results -- originally set for September 17 -- is likely to be pushed back, Noor said.

"It is not clear because we are announcing the preliminary results on Saturday. After that, everything goes to the ECC. They are taking up the complaints. So the final report is the result of the ECC," he said.