FAFEN observes violations in NA-249 by-poll

Report blames Ramazan, hot weather for low turnout


Our Correspondent May 01, 2021
PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD:

The Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) has reported 143 incidents of violation of election laws during the NA-249 by-polls held on April 29 in Karachi.

“In 11 instances, the polling staff did not allow voters to cast [their] votes and sent them back. At 19 polling stations, [Fafen] observers saw the Covid-19 SOPs not [being] implemented at all,” the election network said in its report on NA-249 by-polls.

Fafen noted that 143 violations of election laws were reported on the day of which 55 had been related to the presence of party camps in the polling stations' surroundings.

The other 58 instances of violations pertained to procedural irregularities, mainly in voting and counting processes. On average, the observers reported 1.3 violations per polling station, the report said.

The NA-249 seat had fallen vacant due to the resignation of PTI MNA Faisal Vawda, who became senator in the election on March 3, 2021.

The election network noted a “substantial decline” in voter turnout, mainly due to the hot weather and Ramazan. It said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ensured strict compliance to Covid-19 SOPs on the day.

Also read: ECP withholds NA-249 results

The report stated that despite a rigorous campaign, the poll recorded a turnout of 21.6% of registered voters – dropping from 40% reported for the constituency during general elections 2018.

The election commission had set up 276 polling stations and 796 polling booths. On an average, one polling station was set up for 1,230 voters.

Voters outside 98 polling stations expressed their satisfaction on the electoral process while the remaining maintained that they were partially satisfied.

The observers found election material in enough quantities at all the polling stations that were monitored. They noted two incidents where unauthorized individuals were trying to access the vote casting secrecy screens.

Fafen deployed 28 non-partisan and duly accredited observers —19 male and nine females — to monitor the polling process at 112 polling stations (30 male, 20 female, and 62 combined).

They reported that the polling process was generally fair and transparent. Nearly 84% (94) of the monitored polling stations had polling booths in separate rooms.

However, around 18 polling stations — five male and five female and eight combined — housed more than one booth in a single room. The polling agents were present at all the observed polling stations.

On NA-249 seat, 12 political parties had fielded their candidates while 18 candidates contested independently.

Abdul Qadir Mandokhel of the PPP won the by-poll by securing 22% (16,156) of the polled votes (73,471).

Party analysis showed significant changes in the vote shares of different political parties.

Faisal Vawda of PTI had won from this constituency during the general elections 2018. He had secured 27% (35,349) of the total polled votes (131,190) whereas PML-N’s Shehbaz Sharif finished runner-up with 26% (34,626) of the polled votes.

PPP had secured only 6% (7,236) of polled votes during general elections 2018.

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