Electoral lists: Half-baked rolls may serve just fine – for now

Election Commission announces holding by-polls on ‘draft’ voter lists.


Irfan Ghauri January 28, 2012

ISLAMABAD:


Between ‘contaminated’ rolls now, and ‘clean’ ones in May lie half-baked ‘draft’ rolls.


In an attempt to find a middle-ground in its standoff with the Supreme Court over voter lists, the Election Commission has announced holding by-polls on ‘draft’ electoral rolls.

“We will exclude the unverified voters of the 2007 lists and add newly-registered voters in the lists for the constituencies where by-polls are being held,” an official of the Election Commission said.

By-polls were announced for constituencies mostly vacated following the resignation of lawmakers, provincial and federal, who joined the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

The Supreme Court subsequently stayed the by-polls, citing discrepancies in the existing electoral rolls compiled in 2007.

The Election Commission reacted sharply to the court order and said it was interfering in the commission’s domain, citing constitutional provisions that empower it organise by-polls within 60 days once a seat falls vacant. The commission added it would be unable to finalise new voter Lists before May 2012.

The court remained firm in its stance – that it has objections over holding by-polls with ‘contaminated’ electoral rolls. The announcement of holding by-polls on ‘draft’ voter lists, which are a work-in-progress, may help resolve this impasse.

“The draft electoral rolls will include voters registered during the last year’s door-to-door campaign but those registering afterwards will not be part of this list,” the Election Commission official said.

Meanwhile, the commission also announced holding all by-polls, scheduled for various dates between February 6 and 20, on February 25.

By-polls will be held on National Assembly seats NA-9 Mardan I, NA-140 Kasur III, NA-148 Multan I, NA-149 Multan II, NA-195 Rahimyar Khan IV and NA-168 Vehari.

Provincial by-polls will be held on PP-18 Attock IV and PP-44 Mianwali II in Punjab and PS-53 Tando Muhammad Khan-cum-Hyderabad and PS-57 Badin I in Sindh.

(Read: Showdown in the making? - Daunting challenge faced by the ECP)

Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2012.

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