The Election Commission has asked the Printing Corporation of Pakistan Press to float international tenders for purchasing paper to be used as ballot forms in the upcoming general elections.
For the first time in the country’s history, the poll body has decided to use what it calls ‘non-market’ paper to avoid the influx of forged ballot papers.
The Election Commission was earlier considering using a watermark as a special security feature on the ballot papers, which is expected to cost around Rs150 million to Rs200 million. However, such paper would not only be three times more expensive, but it would take the Printing Corporation of Pakistan Press three to four months to import, an official told The Express Tribune.
Since no time frame has been finalised for the polls, the commission wants to be prepared whenever elections are called, he added.
Another poll official, however, said the commission is likely to ask the Printing Corporation to include some such security feature once the paper is selected. The printing of ballot papers, according to the official, will start just 15 days before the elections as an added security measure.
The commission has called a meeting of 16 mainstream political parties on September 27 to discuss all issues pertaining to the upcoming elections, and apprise them of the reforms implemented by the authority during the last three years.
“We will be telling the leaders of these parties that they too have a role to play in making the election process credible. We have also asked them to come up with suggestions,” said a poll body official.
There have been reports in the past suggesting that candidates printed their own ballot papers to influence poll results in their respective constituencies.
Under the present law, if parliament is dissolved before its term ends, the poll body is required to hold fresh polls within 90 days. If parliament completes its tenure – which in the present case expires in March next year – the Election Commission will have to hold elections within 60 days.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2012.
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