Ballot recounting

Published: August 1, 2018

The recounting in 70 constituencies ordered by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) puts us further at the edge of our seats. The Punjab government is yet to be formed and the province is causing the most suspense out of them all after the PML-N reigned supreme there with the PTI trailing in popularity. Many candidates remain disgruntled and maybe surprised at their imminent defeats and hence requested recounts by presiding officers and the ECP. This comes amid the news that voter turnout in 2018 was three per cent less than last time, lowering the pool of supporters for the various parties. We respect the ECP’s decision and hope for a truthful and positive outcome, whether they confirm the preliminary results in those respective constituencies or negate them.

Margin for human error might be high considering the condition that the ballot counting is completed in by patient volunteers working under fans to sort through hundreds of green chits printed on delicate paper. We leave accuracy at the discretion of the volunteers and trust, however, that they will work to the best of their abilities. As the recounts happen, there is a sense of pressure by losing candidates where victory margins were thin. Officially, this means either a margin of 10,000 votes or less than five per cent of the votes, meaning supporters of major parties were out on Election Day full of enthusiasm. This is a positive outcome of the controversies that have been dug up in the past and a culmination of some candidates’ work over the last few years in holding former leaders accountable.

The push for more transparency should be sustained and we laud the ECP for approving the requests. Where candidates exercise their rights to legitimately demand recounts is fair, albeit 70 is quite a high figure out of the total number of constituencies. The next five days will determine whether the PTI seals the deal or other respective parties in question take the cake.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2018.

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