Nightly News | April 05, 2014
>>> it was a turning point in afghanistan today as millions of men and women turned out to vote in a historic presidential election . president obama called it another important milestone as the u.s. draws down it's forces there. our chief foreign correspondent richard engle is in kabul tonight.
>> reporter: good evening, lester. that this election even happened is an accomplishment. for weeks the taliban has been trying to stop it with a campaign of violence attacking journalists and election workers and threatening to kill voters. but the campaign failed. despite all the threats afghans came out to vote. men and women lined up.
>> we feel today it's really important for all of afghanistan .
>> reporter: security was tight. the roads closed. president hamid karzai cast his ballot but he's not running. banned under term limits. the next president will be one of three former government ministers . all say they want u.s. troops to stay here beyond 2014 . the afghan government says voter turn out was roughly 45% with around 7 million votes cast. that's high considering anywhere else today would have been considered a blood bath . 1,000 polling stations, one in seven, had to close because of violence. 146 attacks on voters. still, afghans defiantly showed off their purple fingers, the ink proof they made their mark for democracy.
>> these people are risking their lives to vote. they're doing their part. the question now is whether their votes will be counted fairly or is this all just for show.
>> reporter: presidential candidate abdullah abdullah remains cautious. he lost the last election in 2009 to president karzai in a vote widely considered fraudulent.
>> the people this time around are very serious that their votes should be counted rightly and fairly.
>> reporter: there are still 33,000 american troops here but today they were nowhere to be seen. earlier this week we toured eastern afghanistan with major general steven townsend who said his forces were on stand by.
>> what are american troops doing to help with this election?
>> that's a good question. actually, very much behind the scenes . the afghans truly are in the lead of this election.
>> reporter: this was the first election afghans secured themselves. it was violent. the government, nonetheless, called it a huge success. but there is still a lot of time to manipulate results in the two weeks it will take to count the votes. it's unlikely any of the candidates will win an outright majority. there will probably be a run off so there might not be a new afghan government in place