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In Afghanistan, Disputed Ballots Point Toward Runoff

After months of speculation, investigators confirmed on Monday that the Afghan election was rife with fraud. Margaret Warner reports.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Investigators today confirmed Afghanistan's presidential election was rife with fraud. The findings by a U.N.-backed group could force a runoff. But it was unclear President Karzai would go along. It was equally unclear how the confusion will affect U.S. policy.

    Margaret Warner has our lead story report.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    The audit by the Electoral Complaints Commission declared that hundreds of thousands of votes for President Hamid Karzai were tainted and must be thrown out.

    GRANT KIPPEN, electoral complaints commission: The complaints were put forward for a reason, because people believed irregularities took place. And in — in that — in the audit and recount, we did find not an insignificant amount of fraud. So, what it proved to us, that our instinct, the intuition, based on those initial investigations, proved true.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    An independent election monitoring group, Democracy International, calculated that the audit findings would push President Karzai below the 50 percent mark. That would set up a runoff between Karzai and second-place finisher Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister. Democracy International estimated he got just over 31 percent.

    But a new vote was far from certain. The independent election commission, an Afghan body, did not say if it will accept the audit commission's report and order a runoff. Karzai did not speak publicly, but he reportedly was questioning about the fairness of the vote audit. His campaign spokesman insisted it's too soon to make any decisions based on the fraud findings.