A video recently shot by RFE/RL's Tajik Service in Dushanbe sheds a light on some curious voting practices.
The clip, filmed during a by-election in the Tajik capital on May 15, attests to election monitors' routine complaints about the tradition of multiple voting in Tajikistan and elsewhere in Central Asia.
A woman, captured stuffing a ballot box, looks genuinely surprised when someone asks her how many votes she is casting.
"Six, of course," she says. "We've got six [eligible voters] in our family."
The voice of an off-camera election worker can be heard explaining, "She asked for ballots for her entire family," apparently unaware that it is technically illegal in Tajikistan for one person to vote for others, family or otherwise.
The by-election in Dushanbe's Sino district was held to fill a vacant parliamentary seat, which Amirqul Azimov, a candidate from the ruling People's Democratic Party, won. His opponent, independent candidate Tolibshoh Saidzoda, refused to accept the official results, citing fraud during the voting process.
Election officials insist some 80 percent of the eligible voters took part in the by-election. Saidzoda, however, claims the turnout was much lower, around 20 percent.
Local officials appear to have done everything in their power to ensure a good turnout, though. According to some observers, they cut off electricity and water in many Sino neighborhoods on election day, just to give people an extra incentive to leave the house.
-- Farangis Najibullah