Anand Gopal checks in on the Afghan presidential election:

[T]he Taliban insurgency still rages in roughly half the country, where it often wields de facto authority. In these areas, casting a vote amounts to a death wish, because the Taliban view the exercise as traitorous. Election authorities have classified three thousand one hundred and forty of the six thousand eight hundred and forty-five polling stations as unsafe; large swathes of the country, particularly in the south and east, might see almost no turnout. …

“It doesn’t matter whom I vote for,” one woman in Salar, who would not give her name, told me. “My husband died in the civil war. I owe thousands of dollars. Who’s going to help us? Not any of these people.” Unlike in Kabul or the peaceful north, most citizens here seemed to view the polls as a dangerous imposition—a piece of Western-orchestrated theatre that would be yet another item in the long list of events and factions and policies to be endured. The international community was talking to them about democracy and legitimacy, the Taliban was threatening them, and the warlords were pressing them to back certain candidates. “They all do it for show, for their own power,” another woman, an off-duty police officer waiting for a taxi, told me. “And we suffer for it.”