Some 80.35 million Pakistanis who have been issued computerised national identity cards (CNICs) will be registered as voters after verification by election authorities to help check the high percentage of bogus votes which have become a hallmark of elections in the country.
Election authorities are conducting a campaign to verify eligible voters, which constitute 93 per cent of the total estimated adult population aged 18 years and above, through enumerators. The National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) has provided their data to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which has started a door-to-door physical verification campaign before registering them in the new computerised electoral rolls.
ECP officials estimate there would be around 80.20 million voters in the new electoral rolls since NADRA does not have an update on people who were issued CNICs but have since passed away. Moreover, fake CNIC holders will be left out after verification.
ECP has recommended parliament to enact a law to encourage women to exercise their right to vote and has forwarded a draft bill for consideration. “We have requested parliament to make it mandatory for at least ten per cent of registered female voters to cast votes at their respective polling stations for the election to be considered legitimate. Votes should be re-polled in constituencies where the minimum requirement is not met,” Secretary ECP Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan told reporters at a joint briefing with Chairman NADRA Ali Arshad Hakeem. In many areas, women are either barred from casting votes or the percentage of their votes is negligible.
New census blocs
Khan said some representatives of political parties had expressed reservations over the new census blocs which have created new delimitations. The Population Census Organisation has increased the total number of census blocs from 104,000 to 140,000. Each bloc consists of 170 to 250 households. To address their concerns, the election commission will arrange meetings of party representatives with ECP and PCO officials at the district level.
Last date for verification
The ongoing door-to-door campaign for verification of eligible voters is scheduled to conclude on September 30. However, the commission will hold a meeting to decide on an extension if required, according to an ECP official. There are reports of disruption due to floods in Sindh and law and order situation in other parts of the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2011.