ISLAMABAD: The election authorities are getting a poor response from overseas Pakistanis in getting them registered to vote in the next month’s by-elections due to technical modalities involved in the process.
A valid mail ID, a machine readable passport and a National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) are prerequisites to get registered as an overseas voter and cast vote in the October 14 by-elections at 37 different constituencies.
Among these 37 seats, 11 are of National Assembly and 25 of provincial assemblies. Most of these seats were vacated by lawmakers who had won from more than one constituency in the July 25 vote. A lawmaker can retain only one seat.
However, in some constituencies polls were postponed due to death of a contestant. On directives of the Supreme Court, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced it will provide over 0.5 million overseas Pakistanis from these constituencies the facility to poll votes through internet-voting (i-voting).
The i-voting system has been developed by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA). The ECP started two-week-long campaign for registration of overseas Pakistanis originally belonging to the areas where by-polls will be held, for i-voting.
The process of registration started from September 1 and would conclude on September 15. However, during the first week, around 3,500 people got registered. The ECP officials said around one million people have visited the website created for the registration process so far.
Once a person is registered on the website, he/she is sent a password though mail to be used on the election day to poll vote. These voters would be required to poll votes from 8 am to 5 pm Pakistan time.
Most Pakistanis, especially belonging to the labour class do not use e-mail, which is a basic requirement to vote registration and polling of vote.
The ECP spokesman Nadeem Qasim said it will be a pilot project and the votes polled through i-voting would not be counted in the initial results. The ECP would first analyse the authenticity of i-votes before making them part of consolidated results.
“Report of the outcome of the project will be presented to parliament,” he added.