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Rigging concerns What ECP should do


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TWO weeks after the general elections, allegations of rigging from various quarters refuse to die down. Some politicians have held aloft ‘ballot papers’ on TV while others have uncovered them from garbage dumps — papers that are meant to be in the ECP’s possession. Meanwhile, poll monitors have asked the ECP to publicly release detailed election data. Perhaps the best way to address these valid concerns is for the ECP to upload the various forms that serve as documentary evidence of the polling process on its website. These include Form XIV (Statement of count), detailing how many votes were cast at each polling station, and Form XV (Ballot paper account), which lists how many ballot papers were used. Making the forms public will allow for an objective evaluation of what might have gone wrong at a particular polling station, helping to determine if erroneous data was entered and if it was due to a mistake or otherwise. The various forms can be reconciled with each other. For example, claims of stuffing and rigging can be addressed if the number of votes polled at a certain station is cross-checked with the number of ballot papers issued. The ECP can order re-polling if discrepancies are found.

The electoral process on May 11 was largely fair and the ECP did improve on previous elections. Yet bugs remain in the system and allegations of irregularities and rigging need to be addressed. There are more long-term issues which need the ECP’s attention. For example, reports have emerged that polling staff at some stations was not properly trained. Admittedly, the training of tens of thousands of individuals deputed at nearly 70,000 polling stations across Pakistan is a mammoth task. But elections are an ongoing process and that is why training of polling staff should be undertaken periodically by the ECP so that the training process is not rushed through a couple of months before an election. Another issue that requires attention is the fact that some polling stations were changed at the eleventh hour, which added to the voters’ confusion.

Better management of the electoral process and capacity building of electoral staff is essential for the conduct of credible polls. People need to be taken into confidence by the ECP that should release the detailed election data while corrective measures need to be taken now for better elections next time. Only if such irregularities are meaningfully addressed can there be hope of a better-managed election in future.

Comments (4) Closed

Syed Ahmed May 28, 2013 01:29pm
I beg your pardon Mr. Editor, the General Elections were not at all fair . How can a tainted ECP hold free and fair elections? They had been rigged from the very beginning. We had been hearing as well as reading of rigging of elections right from the early days, even before commencement of the election process. The proof is that million of overseas Pakistanis were kept away from the elections on slanderous reasoning. Nothing is impossible in this age of electronics and technology. - overseas Pakistanis advise was thrown in the dustbin.
Rafi Ahmed May 28, 2013 05:21pm
Everybody knows about the fiasco in polling of NA-250 in Karachi on 11th May 2013. I have eye witness accounts of armed hoodlums barging into the NA-250 polling station in the Girls High School in DHA Phase-VIII, chasing everybody out at gunpoint and taking over all election material and the ballot boxes. I myself, along with crowds of other voters, waited all day at the NA-250 polling station in the DHA Model School in Phase-IV where the station did not open without giving any reason, until we came to know that polling for this constituency had been suspended due to rigging, and it was not till late evening about 9 pm we were finally told that the polling at this station had been suspended due to rigging with fresh date of polling to be announced later. We all know which political parties are maintaining militant wings who have the clout and capability of carrying out the above. If this could have been done in DHA Karachi, which is relatively peaceful and free of militancy, it would be difficult to believe that the same modus operandi was not applied elsewhere. And with the clear footages of such acts shown on TV, and scattered ballot sheets found in public places, mostly with incorrect stamps, I do not understand how the ECP can deny that malpractice and rigging had taken place. Re-polling should be ordered at all stations where there is clear evidence that such rigging had taken place, and all those identified in being involved in such misdemeanors, including those who are clearly recognizable in the TV footages, should be apprehended and receive exemplary punishment. Rafi Ahmed Karachi
Muhammad Ahmed Mufti May 28, 2013 07:13pm
ECP will do nothing as the polls were rigged as per the script. What ECP should worry about is a far bigger issue i.e. people have realized that their vote does not count. The future of democracy is in jeopardy.
Salma Khan May 28, 2013 08:02pm
Good, workable solution .. but will ECP even care to listen? I doubt it!