The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has been unable to verify the antecedents of over 1.41 million of the 4.26 million potential voters in Lahore district registered with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
The ECP began verifying the electoral rolls two months ago and has until October 30 to do so. It has been sending people door-to-door to check if the addresses of voters provided by NADRA are correct.
A few months ago, the Census Division (Population Census Organisation) conducted its household census. At that time ECP gave the census workers a form (that asked for the household number as well as the name and CNIC number of the head of the household) and asked them to fill the form.
Once the forms were received, the election commission sent them to NADRA, requesting that it verify the number of ID cards issued for each household. In return NADRA gave the commission a list of 4,260,256 people who had been issued ID cards. The ECP gave the lists to its workers who have now been tasked with manually verifying names and addresses of the people holding CNICs before entering their names in the voters’ lists.
An ECP official told The Express Tribune that addresses on almost 1.42 million CNICs could not be verified.
Deputy Election Commissioner for Lahore district Rana Ishtiaq Ahmad explained the problem. “NADRA has issued many CNICs without verifying the current address. In some cases the lists are missing house numbers.
In other instances, our teams go to the address on the ID cards, and learn that no one by that name lives there,” he said. He added that ECP had also come upon around 346,870 people who had valid CNICs and yet were not included in the NADRA lists.
Ahmad said that a list of the CNICs bearing addresses that remained unverified would be sent to NADRA. “ECP will not add these names to its final voters’ lists.
NADRA has told me that they will add the ‘unverified’ voters in the areas of their permanent addresses.” NADRA’s operations manager for electoral rolls verification Rashid Ahmad Bhatti was not available for his comments.
After October 30, ECP will send verified lists to NADRA. NADRA, after registering new voters and removing the unverified names on the recommendations of ECP, will hand over preliminary voters’ list to the commission. ECP will then display these electoral rolls for public scrutiny and appoint revising officers, who are usually civil judges. At that stage, political parties and the public will be asked to go through the lists and submit any objections or reservations before the revising authority.
ECP will then amend the draft electoral rolls on recommendations of the revising authority and send it to NADRA for updating the data. NADRA will then issue the final electoral lists.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2011.