Electoral rolls completion: Supreme Court deadline cannot be met, says ECP

Election Commission in a bind over whether to focus on wrapping up or transparency in voters’ list.


Sumera Khan December 23, 2011

ISLAMABAD:


The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is in a fix. With the Supreme Court issuing orders for the commission to complete the electoral rolls by February 23, the authority can’t decide whether it should aim for the deadline or transparency in the voters list.


The ECP was initially scheduled to complete the process by April.

The directives issued by the apex court the other day asking the ECP to meet the new deadline has compelled the commission to join heads with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to explore all possible means to squeeze their schedule.

After their meeting on Thursday, the commission said in a press statement that no change or revision of the already issued schedule of the electoral rolls is possible, as the timelines given therein cannot be squeezed any further. This announcement by the ECP is likely to enrage the apex court.

“The issue of squeezing the timeline already issued by the Election Commission has been discussed with the NADRA chairman who has also shown his inability to squeeze it any further,” the statement said.

Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan Justice Hamid Ali Mirza held a meeting with the NADRA chairman and deputy chairman and asked them to expedite the work relating to the data processing of the verified draft electoral rolls and forms handed over to NADRA by the ECP, and to print the preliminary electoral rolls as early as possible, keeping in mind two factors –the legal requirement of a minimum of three weeks for the display of preliminary electoral rolls has to be observed and the accuracy of the data has to be ensured to avoid the mistakes committed in 2007, the statement said.

The ECP is working on the data entry to compile the preliminary electoral rolls in collaboration with NADRA and the latter is supposed to complete the process by the end of January 2012, sources told The Express Tribune. Although the ECP has asked NADRA to squeeze the schedule as much as possible, ECP sources said preliminary data would take almost a whole other week to get printed once the data compilation process is completed.

Once they are printed, sources added, the lists will be put up at 55,000 display centres across Pakistan for three weeks, because it is a legal requirement. The concerned officers usually receive thousands of complaints within the said time and it takes almost two to three weeks to resolve the complaints, the source added.

ECP officials are worried if they push NADRA to squeeze the time, the accuracy of the rolls is bound to be compromised.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2011.

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