Afghan President Hamid Karzai may be seen as illegitimate after reports of widespread voter fraud.
Karzai's backers set up hundreds of fictitious polling sites where no one voted but where hundreds of thousands of ballots were still recorded toward the president’s re-election, according to senior Western and Afghan officials who spoke to The New York Times.
As many as 800 phony polling sites existed only on paper, said a senior Western diplomat in Afghanistan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Local workers reported that hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of votes for Mr. Karzai in the election last month came from each of those places.
The growing reports of fraud are a headache for the Obama administration, which has 68,000 American troops deployed here to help reverse gains by the Taliban. American officials hoped that the election would help turn Afghans away from the Taliban by giving them a greater voice in government. Now, the Obama administration faces the prospect of having to defend an Afghan administration that is widely viewed as gaining power through illegitimate means.
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