Sometimes it’s really quite amazing to see the disconnect between what the unseen, unknown planners on high come up and the situation on the ground. Let’s just say originally this area was to have quite a number of polling sites. And as the election creeps closer and closer, everyone is coming to the realization that we just don’t have the manpower to provide security for all of these places. In many cases, it’s not so much the number of polling sites as it is the locations. We simply do not control much of the environment out here. Where we are we control, but it’s a big hinterland and we can’t be everywhere. And where we not…the Taliban are. Most of the little valleys out here don’t have a security presence more than a couple kilometers in. To put a polling site out deep in a valley where no Coalition forces go means we have to rely on local elders to provide the security for the ballots and the election itself.
Handing over election security to a local elder who holds no official position seems a little strange and could certainly lead to some odd results, but it’s not a perfect world and no election is perfect. Getting the people to go through the process, however flawed it may be, is the important thing. If that process doesn’t get off the ground at all because the ballots got burned by the Taliban, well, at least the Taliban in that case have shown exactly where they stand regarding peoples’ right to choose their leaders. Just to make a point, we’ve dropped off humanitarian aid knowing it would get burned by the Taliban. Something similar may end up happening with the ballots.