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The Votes Are In
It could take days for an accurate count in Afghanistan's first parliamentary election since 1969.
By Suzanne Freeman

Afghan election workers move ballot boxes into a store in Kabul on September 19, 2005.
(Photo: Ahmad Masood/Reuters)
The turnout was low, but the event is historic. Afghanistan citizens voted on their first Parliament since 1969. Violence at the polls, which was less than expected, could be the cause of the low voter turnout.

Yesterday's election was to choose some 6,000 members of local councils and the national legislature. Some 50 percent of registered voters appeared at the polls. Last October, 70 percent of the nation's 12. 5 million voters voted in the presidential election.

"The low turnout was very obvious in districts all over the country," said Nader Nadery, chairman of the Free and Fair Elections Foundation of Afghanistan. That organization provided 7,000 monitors to watch the 6,300 polling centers.

President Hamid Karzai hailed the day as a success.

"We are making history," President Karzai said. "It's the day of self-determination for the Afghan people. After 30 years of wars, interventions, occupations, and misery, today Afghanistan is moving forward, making an economy, making political institutions."

Violence from militants may have caused the low turnout. At least 19 polling centers were attacked, and at least 11 people were killed in other outbursts of violence throughout the country.

One militant leader, saying he spoke for the Taliban, warned Afghans not to vote.

For more information about the difficulties of voting in Afghanistan, read correspondent Cassandra Nelson's story.