The numbers of registered voters in Sindh has plummeted to 10.84 million – about 1.3 million less than the number of voters in the 2008 elections, revealed the computerised electoral rolls, which were displayed on Tuesday by the provincial election commission.
According to the new list, the five districts of Karachi have 6.8 million voters. The Sindh election commissioner Sono Khan Baloch said that the drop in the number was because the body had made sure there were no loopholes in the registration process, leaving no room for people to register themselves multiples times and subsequently cast a vote more than once. In previous elections, some people had managed to vote more than once by using their computerised cards, manual identity cards, driving licences as well as club membership cards.
But this time around, the only documentation that is being accepted for voters’ registration is their CNIC, said Baloch. He said that those people who obtained CNIC cards on or before June 15 have also been included in the new list. Registration will continue till the government announces the date of the general elections. Baloch said that if anyone complained about errors in the electoral roll, these would be rectified promptly. After a number of petitions were filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan challenging the authenticity of 2008 electoral rolls, the National Data Registration Authority (NADRA) was asked to verify these rolls from their data base which revealed that there were 37 million bogus votes in the list.
But the provincial election commissioner remains optimistic that there will be no mishaps this time around. “The election staff will not come under any pressure and hopefully the entire process will be fair and transparent,” he said. He hoped that NADRA’s computerised list would also allay fears that the upcoming elections would be tainted by massive fraud.
Baloch also added that a conspiracy to register around 1.2 million votes of Sindh in Balochistan had been foiled. “We have registered a case against five people of the election commission,” he said.
The crackdown came after PPP MPAs including finance minister Murad Ali Shah and Ghulam Qadir Chandio alleged that votes of their constituencies had been transferred to Balochistan. However, Senator Shahi Syed of the Awami National Party criticised the new electoral rolls, claiming that thousands of votes from Sindh have been transferred elsewhere.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2012.