Months of campaigning by political parties and independent groups, asking the youth to register their votes for the upcoming elections, appears to have been a step in the right direction.
For the first time, Pakistan’s much-touted ‘youth bulge’ has manifested itself on the country’s electoral rolls. According to data released by the Election Commission of Pakistan on Saturday, almost half the registered voters, or 47.5% of 84.3 million, are under the age of 35.
Earlier estimates had placed the percentage of youth amongst registered voters at around 35%.
The percentage, however, is more significant when one considers that the total turnout in previous elections varied between 32 and 36 per cent. The millions of youth who have registered their vote for the first time, therefore, are likely to play a significant role in the overall results of the next elections. The push by most mainstream parties to engage and invest more in campaigns and politicking on the youth-heavy social media seems to not be without reason.
Age-wise break up
An age-wise break up of the 2012 electoral rolls shows there are now 16.2 million registered voters between the age of 18 and 25 years. Of them, some 1.5 million turned 18 between January and June this year.
According to the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), on average, 12,000 to 15,000 new computerised national identity cards (CNIC) are issued daily, majority of them to those who have turned 18 recently. The largest chunk of registered voters, 23.8 million, however, lies in the 26 to 35 year age bracket followed by 17 million voters between the age of 36 and 45. Almost 12 million voters lie in the 46 to 55 year age bracket, 8.4 million between the age of 56 and 65 while another 6.7 million are over the age of 65.
According to NADRA officials, a total of 92 million CNICs have been issued so far, however the number of registered voters stands at 84.3 million. Those who have not been included were either deceased, or those belonging to the Azad Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, said Chairman NADRA.
However, since NADRA has no mechanism to know the exact number of deceased people, some political parties accuse the authority of keeping millions of deceased people in the voter lists.
A ruling Pakistan Peoples Party lawmaker, Sughra Imran, had claimed in the Senate that 15 million votes of deceased persons have been included in the new list, but has been unable to substantiate her claim so far.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2012.