Voters overwhelm polling stations in Afghanistan

BY Kayla Ruble  April 5, 2014 at 5:56 PM EST
SHEFAYEE/AFP/Getty Images

Afghan woman crowd a polling location in Bamiyan on Saturday to cast their ballots for the country’s next president. Despite fears of violence, millions of people came out to vote for President Hamid Karzai’s replacement. Credit: Shefayee/AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of security forces were posted throughout Kabul on Saturday in anticipation of possible violence during Afghanistan’s presidential election.

The voting represented the country’s first democratic transfer of power since the Taliban was removed from power more than a decade ago.

While there were reports of small attacks throughout the country, millions of voters flocked to polling stations to cast their ballot for candidates vying to replace president Hamid Karzai.

Karzai showed up to vote at a school near the presidential palace. ”Today for us, the people of Afghanistan, is a very vital day that will determine our national future,” he said.

In a statement, President Obama called the elections “another important milestone in Afghans taking full responsibility for their country as the United States and our partners draw down our forces.”

Some polling locations reportedly stayed open for an extra hour to accommodate the unexpected number of voters. In others, stations ran out of ballots, with more than one-third of the country’s provinces reporting shortages.

There were also reports of ballot stuffing, and in one case, a group of observers from Abdullah Abdullah’s campaign barred a box of ballots to be transported for counting.

Results of the vote will likely take at least one week to finalize, but partial results could be released as early as Sunday.

Many anticipate a runoff vote as none of the eight candidates are expected to receive a majority.