UN observers should also be there en masse, the USA State Department should have an official report, and television news coverage should be fairly detailed. This is a foretaste of what the coalition of the willing has planned for Iraq.
Regarding last night's town hall meeting, this was close to how I saw it too: http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/101004Z.shtml -- but I wasn't quite so alarmed or disturbed as the author (William Rivers Pitt) because I don't see major decision making going through Bush's office most of the time (yes, depriving civilians of a clearly identifiable chief executive awkwardly distorts the office -- but then, the USA is but a mere shadow of itself these days, when moneymakers eclipse sensemakers. Not glory days, these).
- BBC Afghan vote boycott creates turmoil , journalists' logs
- Bloomberg Afghanistan election turnout called 'massive' by United Nations
- Aljazeera Afghan timeline
- Guardian Bush takes credit for Afghan election
Sounds like Afghan public is eager for free and fair elections. Women are getting into it. Lots of concern about illicit multiple voting ("vote early, vote often"). Not clear to me yet if the candidates' boycott is sour grapes, or well-based mistrust of the process. People in the USA have some experience with that one (re Florida in 2000, we know the mistrust was well-based).
Obviously Afghanistan would benefit from computerized rosters matched with personal ID, such that a voter's record gets checked off in the database. Staining a body part with ink is clearly an ad hoc measure, designed to make up for the absence of election-supporting infrastructure.