Afghan Voters Stand Up to Taliban for Key Election

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Despite threats from the Taliban, millions of Afghans went to the polls to elect a new president, Thursday.

The day wasn't without violence, but that didn't stop some brave residents from making their voices heard.

They stood in line for the chance to build a better country.

"We want a secure future," said Afghan voter Shrin Dil.  "What else do we want? Nothing but peace."

This was only the second presidential election for Afghanistan in more than 30 years.

"We give our vote to a candidate who, after winning, will be able to protect our rights, including women's rights," said femail voter Fozia Bibi.

President Hamid Karzai is hoping to be the next leader.  The incumbent president has ruled Afghanistan since the Taliban was removed eight years ago.

He's expected to finish first among 36 other candidates.

"I'm sure that, Inshallah (God willing), this will be for peace, for progress and for the well being of the Afghan people," a voter said.

If Karzai doesn't get more than 50 percent of the vote he'll face a runoff.

Results weren't expected until the weekend.

Meanwhile, security was tight across the country after the Taliban threatened to attack voters and polling stations.

They made good on that promise.  A series of attacks left 26 people dead.

Weeks of Taliban intimidation also appear to have dampened voter turnout. 

Mohammed Asif lives in a Taliban area near Kandahar city.  He said insurgents warned residents that if anyone voted they would be punished.

"All the roads are empty, shops are closed, people are avoiding coming out of their houses due to Taliban threats," Asif said.

Some did vote, but decided not to dip their finger in the indelible ink.

"If they see the ink, the Taliban will kill us," a resident said.

Voter turnout appeared lighter than in 2004, espeically in the south.

Low turnout there could be bad for President Karzai and could boost his top challenger, Abdullah Abdullah.

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