Election duty: Presiding Officers get magisterial powers

Ballot boxes and papers being handed over.


Rana Yasif May 10, 2013
An election worker loads ballot boxes onto a truck, before they are transported to polling areas. PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE:


As many as 40,628 presiding officers in the province have been given magisterial powers for three days (May 10 to 12) to ensure peaceful conduct of polls on May 11 (today).


The presiding officers have been given the authority to hand out punishment, up to seven months in prison, to those who violate the code of conduct or use violence to hinder or corrupt the electoral process.

ROs kept waiting for ballot papers and boxes The Express Tribune learnt that some returning officers (ROs) had not been delivered ballot boxes and papers by Friday afternoon. This caused a consequent delay in getting the boxes and papers to presiding officers in each constituency.

Though the papers reached most of the presiding officers on Friday, RO Khalid Mahmood Bhatti, of NA-125, said he received the ballot boxes at 5pm on Friday. “This is cutting it too close. They have to be delivered to presiding officers in each constituency for the polls tomorrow,” he said.

NA-121 RO Rai Muhammad Ayub Marth said his team had been waiting at the Town Hall, all day, to receive ballot boxes and papers. At 8pm, when this story was filed, Marth said he still hadn’t received the boxes and papers for his constituency.

Ballot papers, boxes and other election materials were loaded onto several trucks under the Army’s supervision and police contingents to hand them over to presiding officers.

The trucks were loaded from the district and sessions court, DCO’s office and the Town Hall. The roads leading to the court complex were sealed. The police and Army escorted the trucks to deliver the boxes and papers to their constituencies.

All male presiding officers were directed to go to their respective polling stations escorted by Army personnel and stay the night there so that the safety of the polling bags could be ensured.

The women presiding officers were allowed to return to their homes for the night after ensuring that the boxes and papers were locked and that policemen were deployed at the stations. The presiding officers’ attendants will have to remain at the polling station as well.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2013.

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