Iraqi Election Ballots in the Tank?

There are reports today that a tanker truck filled with completed ballots was stopped at the Iran-Iraq border. The New York Times reports that at least three other tanker trucks made it inside Iraq with their loads of ballots. As the paper notes,

The tanker was seized in the evening by agents with the American-trained border protection force at the Iraqi town of Badra, after crossing at Munthirya on the Iraqi border, the official said. According to the Iraqi official, the border police found several thousand partly completed ballots inside.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the Iranian truck driver told the police under interrogation that at least three other trucks filled with ballots had crossed from Iran at different spots along the border.

The official, who did not attend the interrogation, said he did not know where the driver was headed, or what he intended to do with the ballots.

Clearly, this report undermines the confidence in the election outcome if there are reports in the voting of ballot box stuffing. It also illustrates the difficulty of stopping fraud when paper ballots are used. International elections often use clear ballot boxes, but if the box is stuffed–even knowingly–it is almost impossible to then sort the stuffed ballots from the properly cast ones. As a story in noted in 2004, the reason many countries are moving to electronic voting is because it can deter this type of fraud. In India, bandits often take over polls and steal or stuff the ballot boxes. Electronic voting has greatly limited this activity.