THREE days before the election day we discovered that our constituency had changed like those of several of our relatives. But we couldn’t understand why
On election day we were among the first five voters at our polling station. The presiding officers were not yet present. They arrived just after polling was supposed to have started. The ballot boxes were neither colour-coded nor did they have the little official Pakistani crescent on them. In fact, NA 250 and PS 112 were being handwritten on to them, as we watched.
A voter asked a polling staff lady worker if she could send an sms to the number provided by the ECP to confirm her block number. She quickly pulled out her mobile. Wait a minute…weren’t mobiles banned at polling stations? The officials did not seem to have the process of identifying and assisting rehearsed in their minds. Eager voters tried to help them with the step-by-step method of cross-checking identity, obtaining ballot papers, stamps, thumb impressions and signatures.
However, the presiding officers didn’t seem to think that their stamps were needed. Our names were cancelled off the badly-photocopied books but we were not asked to give our thumb impressions at this time. A lady ahead of us (my mother and I) brought this up and they assured her that it wasn’t needed yet.
Then the lady issuing the NA ballot paper took a long time noting things down on the stub-end of the book and asked us for our thumbprints. She then proceeded to tear our ballots and squiggle a basic ‘s’-type signature on the back.
The lady issuing the PS ballot seemed to mimic her and we were given an ECP stamp to vote. The presiding officers neither had stamps for themselves nor did they think we needed their stamps on the back of our ballot sheets, even when they were questioned.
My mother and I faced another dilemma. Our PS was PS 113 all along and now since our block had been changed, there was some sort of error as this was PS 112. I brought this up with the presiding officials concerned and they replied that they had our names on their list and thus we were to vote here. Instead of kicking up a storm, we went ahead and voted.
My burger mind was already shooting off emails on returning home. The candidate that I intended to vote for was not standing for PS 112. Not really knowing other independent symbols, I tried second-guessing, perhaps a trumpet, perhaps a guitar… but then what if I vote for an unknown evil … the only other symbols I recognised were the bat, the arrow and the tiger.
You can guess where my vote went, even though I am not pro any of the above, I voted for the seemingly lesser of the known evils.
On returning home, I soon discovered that most people voting in NA 250 too had been fooled into casting ‘voidable’ votes or they had just not been able to vote at all for various reasons, including disappearing presiding officers, missing ballot boxes, papers, stamps and locked polling stations.
I have been advised to write to the ECP via fax or email giving details of the rigging/lack of proper information. If I send them my NIC number along with this letter, this may in fact some how validate my vote. I have also been told to go and ask to redo my vote due to the above reasons. I intend to do both. I doubt I will be heard. I doubt my vote will be counted but I refuse to give up. My voice will be heard.
FATEEHA BEG Karachi
PTI voters EVERYTHING that could have gone wrong went wrong in these elections -- from large-scale rigging to unrest, firing and blasts. Even in these difficult conditions PTI voters came forward with their support and strength. Apparently, those who vote for their clans and communities outnumbered those who vote for credentials of the candidate.
Even then, the PML-N and other parties had to resort to rigging and malpractices. PTI supporters must have been giving them nightmares for a long time now. And they know it too that if the elections had been fair, the other parties would have experienced a huge upset.
Every other person seemed to have voted for the bat, but when the results came out the people were shocked. How can there be zero votes for the PTI in their constituency when they themselves voted for the PTI?
This is the magic of elections in Pakistan. Even votes vanish into thin air.
SUBIA AZHAR Lahore
Ichhra booth I WENT to my polling booth at the UC office, Alptageen Road, Ichhra, Lahore, at about 4pm. When I presented my CNIC to the polling officer, I was shocked to know that my vote had already been cast.
When I said I had not cast my vote, it made no impression on the polling officer who insisted my vote had been cast and asked me to go home and relax. When I said I would call in the media, only then the polling officer allowed me to cast my vote. I am afraid it will not be counted.
The question arises that since the polling officer does not let anyone cast his vote without CNIC, it appears someone had made a fake CNIC with my data. Thus it is possible many fake CNICs are out there being used for election rigging and other illegal purposes.
Should I register a complaint of a fake CNIC in my name to the FIA and Nadra? And this incident did not only happen with me, there were many others complaining of the same. Was it a free and fair election?
SHAHZAD KHALID Lahore