Markets in Everything: Afghan Votes

The NYTimes has an excellent piece today on vote-buying in Afghanistan:

How much does it cost to buy an Afghan vote?

Saturday’s parliamentary elections offer a unique opportunity to ascertain that price – and it is in theory a market with many buyers, as 2,500 candidates scramble for only 249 seats….

Nonetheless, prices are low. In northern Kunduz Province, Afghan votes cost $15 each; in eastern Ghazni Province, a vote can be bought for $18. In Kandahar, they sell their rights for as little as $1 a ballot. More commonly, the price seems to hover in the $5 to $6 range, as quoted to New York Times reporters in places like Helmand and Khost Provinces.

You may be surprised to learn that in Afghanistan a woman's vote is regarded as especially valuable:

He wanted to know how many of the cards were for female voters; those are more valuable because, out of respect for cultural sensitivities, women’s registration cards do not bear photographs, so they are easy for anyone to use. 

Here is my favorite bit.  Vote buying is much more common in this election than in the last.  So things have gotten worse, right?  Maybe not:

The feeling, experts say, was that last year’s election was stolen wholesale by supporters of President Hamid Karzai, so there was little need for vote buying.


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