KABUL (AFP) - Afghanistans vote monitoring body on Thursday ordered for the first time that ballots be scrapped from 83 polling stations finding clear and convincing evidence of fraud in troubled elections. Afghans went to the polls in only their second direct presidential election on August 20, but the vote has been marred by low turnout and widespread allegations of vote-rigging, intimidation and other fraud. In the course of its investigations, the ECC (Electoral Complaints Commission) has found clear and convincing evidence of fraud in 83 polling stations in three provinces, the ECC said in statements. The UN-backed body said the ballots from those stations should be excluded from the final vote, which with almost all ballots counted looks set to bring incumbent President Hamid Karzai a second term. Most of the presidential ballots in question came from Karzai strongholds. The majority were cast in 51 polling stations in southern Kandahar-Karzais home province and political heartland but also a Taliban stronghold. The incumbents leading challengers have accused Karzais team of ballot-stuffing and rigging in a bid to buy the leader a second five-year term in office, raising questions about the legitimacy of any new Karzai government. The ECC cited indications from the Kandahar stations that the ballots were not legally cast, or were not legally counted. All presidential ballots in five polling stations in southeastern Paktika province were also invalidated, the commission said. In 27 polling stations in Ghazni, either all the presidential ballots, all the provincial council ballots, or in some cases both, were ordered thrown out. Investigations in Ghazni found indications of fraud including unfolded ballots, miscounted ballots, missing material, and lists of voters with numerous fictitious card numbers, the ECC statement said. There are 600-700 presidential ballot papers and the same number of ballots for provincial elections at each of Afghanistans 25,450 polling stations, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has said. ECC public outreach officer Nellika Little told AFP it was the first time the body ordered the invalidation of ballots, and the IEC would now have to carry out the order and discount the votes. The IEC previously announced that votes from 447 polling stations-or 200,000 ballots-were under investigation. IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said that the figure would likely rise to 650 stations. Regarding the ECCs order to invalidate votes from 83 stations, he told AFP: We will do that order. ECC chairman Grant Kippen told AFP there would be no repeat voting, with the ballots simply being discounted from the final tally. He said investigations were ongoing in Afghanistans 34 provinces, but was unable to give a timescale for the release of all findings. Were waiting for the IEC to respond to us with respect to the number of polling stations affected and where those polling stations are and then we will investigate that information, he said. The IEC has announced initial results piecemeal, with Karzai likely to win a second term with more than 54 percent of the vote, with most ballots counted. But his main rival Abdullah Abdullah-trailing with less than 30 percent of the vote-has urged the IEC not to release results while the fraud claims remain unresolved. Noor told AFP they hope to release the full preliminary result on Saturday. The final announcement of Afghanistans new president is not expected before September 17. A US election monitoring group on Thursday expressed deep concern about fraud in the election after detecting unusually high turnout in some Taliban-plagued regions. Polling stations in parts of the country where low turnout had been expected because of threats from insurgents saw unusually high turnout figures, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) said. A violent Taliban campaign aimed at keeping people away from polling stations is believed to have kept turnout as low as 30-35 percent.