Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Race to the Finish in Afghan Elections

Afghanistan is moving forward in its electoral process, holding a run off election between incumbent Hamid Karzai and challenger Abdullah Abdulla. President Hamid Karzai failed to receive the required majority of votes when the U.N. declared one third of votes invalid. The August 20 election was the second election held in Afghanistan under the Constitution of Afghanistan. There had been talk of a power sharing deal between the two competitors, and the creation of a coalition government. However, that has been overturned in favor of the run-off election.

This is a great time to discuss comparisons and contrasts between Afghanistan and the United States, and provide your students with a deeper understanding of the world at large.

One way to accomplish this is through the Photo narrative of Being We the People, a photography exhibit by students from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Kabul, Afghanistan. The images can be found at
Ask your students to draw comparisons between the photos, as well as the countries at large.

You can then discuss with students the current events surrounding the elections in Afghanistan, and different methods of determining a winner when a tie occurs.

You can then ask your students “What happens in the United States when there is a tie for the presidency?” Many may not know. Your students can read Article II, section one of the Constitution, for the answer. This scenario played out in the election of 1800, between Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Aaron Burr. After this election, the Twelfth amendment was passed, changing the way Presidents we elected. However, the role of the House of Representatives selecting the President, with one vote per state, remains the same. A tie for the presidency occurred only one other time, under the twelfth amendment, in the election of 1825, between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. Ask your students to express their feelings on this issue – do they agree? How would they determine a winner in the event of a tie?

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