Afghanistan, a nation that has seen war for more than a generation, took the polls over the weekend for the country's first-ever free elections.
Despite threats from the Taliban, Afghans flocked to ballot boxes in high numbers. About 7 million of 12 million eligible voters turned out for the election, according to preliminary estimates.
"We commend the Afghan people, security forces, and elections officials on the turnout for today’s vote," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "These elections are critical to securing Afghanistan’s democratic future, as well as continued international support, and we look to the Afghan electoral bodies to carry out their duties in the coming weeks to adjudicate the results—knowing that the most critical voices on the outcome are those of Afghans themselves."
Though the election was largely peaceful, according to reports, at least 23 people were killed, and several others were injured in attacks by Taliban fighters—though they were fewer than feared. At least 200 polling stations were closed at the last minute because of security threats.
Sarah Chayes, formerly a special adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and now senior associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program at the Carnegie Endowment, weighed in on the election, the future relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan, and the role of the Taliban.