The final round of Afghanistan's presidential elections took place with a relatively low death toll — a quiet kind of victory for nation's fledgling democracy. Inside Kabul, the Taliban fired a few rockets harmlessly towards the northern suburbs after daybreak, as if for form's sake. But the election went ahead anyway, with small trickles of voters filing into polling centers across the capital throughout the day.
Lines were almost non-existent, an outcome political activists ascribed variously to the fierce heat, lack of ballot papers, increased efficiency on behalf of the electoral commission and voter apathy. Polls since the first round of voting showed Dr. Abdullah Abdullah taking a solid lead over his opponent, former World Bank economist Dr. Ashraf Ghani. But at each of the three polling centers VICE News visited, almost every voter interviewed claimed to have cast their vote for Ghani, implying the final result may be closer than anyone expected.
Electoral monitors for both candidates traded accusations of attempted fraud, with Abdullah taking the lion's share of the blame. At the polling center in Kabul's upper-middle class District 10, VICE News witnessed a secret policeman escorted away by stern-faced soldiers after being caught attempting to vote for Abdullah twice.
In a month's time, the ballot papers from Afghanistan's provinces will have been counted at least, those from where voting was possible and Afghanistan will have a new president. Depending on the closeness of the results, the transition to a new administration may take place smoothly, or may be marred by accusations of electoral fraud and voter intimidation.