MUZAFFARABAD: Manipulated ballot papers, designed to benefit certain political parties, were used in Muzaffarabad on Sunday, field visits of The Express Tribune to various polling stations in and around the capital revealed.
In one of the most competitive seats, LA-26 Muzaffarabad-III, the constituency comprising the urban areas of the capital city from where the former prime minister and chief of PML-N’s AJK chapter Raja Farooq Haider, Muslim Conference’s incumbent prime minister’s son Sardar Usman Khan and veteran PPP leader Khawaja Farooq were competing, the ballot paper was designed to benefit Muslim Conference’s candidate. Sardar Usman lost the election nevertheless.
The names of 12 contestants along with their election symbols were listed side by side in two columns, as opposed to the normal ballot paper where there is only the name of one candidate in one row. However, the column next to the 13th candidate, Muslim Conference’s Sardar Usman Khan, was left blank. The ballot paper was basically designed so that when a person votes and folds the paper vertically in two folds, the ink is smeared on two names making the vote inadmissible. The ballot paper in the election, however, was required to be vertically folded four times - a quarter of the paper from both sides at a time. So if the voters folded the ballot paper four times only then would the ink not be spread on two names.
The workers and polling agents of the PML-N and PPP provided the copies of the blank ballot papers to The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2011.
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