ACCORDING to reports, the National Database and Registration Authority has issued more than 40 million computerised national identity cards to women. However, there is still a difference of 3.3 million in these statistics and the tally displayed on the website of the Election Commission of Pakistan. There are also a large number of Pakistanis over the age of 18 who have yet to be entered on the electoral roll. Some political parties have taken up this issue, avowedly wanting to enfranchise, and hoping to enlist the support of, youngsters. Yet even in the case of parties loudly claiming to work for change, a specific thrust for bringing in a greater number of women voters into the equation is sadly missing. According to ECP figures, there are more than 48.4 million male voters in Pakistan, as opposed to 37.3 million female voters. That is a gap of 11 million — three times the size of the electorate in Balochistan, and this is just the start of the story.

The climax to the discriminatory act comes at the polling booth on election day. This is when votes cast by women are lost under the heavy weight of ballots stamped by the males. There are routinely reports about women being stopped from voting as also of polling booths set up for women being used for rigging. Experienced poll watchers say the candidates find it easier to carry out vote fraud at booths for women as opposed to those for male voters where the atmosphere is much more charged and prone to violence and where a more efficient regime to identify the voter is in place. Experience tells us that bogus votes are more likely cast in polling booths for women.

There are many factors that have prevented a more clear analysis of this problem — not least significant a strange ECP policy. There are exclusive polling stations for women in the country as there are those for men. But then outnumbering these are ‘combined’ polling stations with separate booths for men and women where piles of the women’s votes are mixed with those of the men before a count is undertaken. It shouldn’t be too difficult for a reform-driven ECP to count the ballots cast at a women’s booth separately from the ones collected at the men’s booth. This will be in aid of fairer polls and can go a long way in truly enfranchising one half of the Pakistani population.

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Comments (7)

M.Asghar
March 13, 2013 10:40 am
Very good suggestion to the ECP to keep and count the men and the women votes separately.
Ahmed j
March 13, 2013 11:46 am
It is too difficult to monitor the voting system when a nation of 18 crore people vote in a single day. It is humanly impossible to have free and fair elections under the prevailing situation. However, if constitution permits, the elections could be spread on a month long duration time. Votes cast be scheduled one or two constituency each from every province meaning around eight constituencies result everyday. The voting process could continue on daily basis, constituency by constituency as long as the entire country is covered. In this way, Election Commission, Media, political parties and entire nation will keep a vigilant check on any unfair means. Any government, federal or provincial would not be able to use their state machinery in their favour. The Police and the Army could cover the law and order concerns and will be able to enforce peace. In the presence of manageable strict security the masses would have sense of trust to vote without security fear. This will also result in higher vote cast percentage. The nation is ready to delay the process and result for a month?s time wait rather being imposed by an undesirable party for another five years.
Cyrus Howell
March 13, 2013 12:18 pm
Vote fraud is a given. If there is going to be vote fraud the army may as well take over. Pakistan needs new laws, new courts and new prosecutors. Then the police will fall in line too, and criminals of all kinds will go to prison. My advice is not to wait for Saddam Hussein to take over.
Cyrus Howell
March 13, 2013 12:20 pm
Would Pakistan be worse off if all the women were registered to vote by mail?
Raza
March 13, 2013 9:11 pm
Don't you see in India with Much bigger population conduct the elections in fair manner? General people are not rigging the booths. It is some people who are sitting in Corner position of the Country. If those people and institutions are kept under the check it is possible to have free and fair elections. All it takes is two or three Honest people.
tajmeer
March 14, 2013 7:37 am

vote fraud happen mostly in those areas where literacy rate is very low and specially in women. If the women will be an educated voter so no one can do any fraud with her and she can cast her vote herself; But as the women are not educated and some time the staff or the supporters of the political parties cast vote on behalf of them or misguide them. Until and unless our women will be educated this issue will remain in our society. The election commission should take necessary steps to avoid such kind of mishaps with women voters, they can start an awareness campaign on TV and radio in regional languages for the casting of votes . Some time male voters also become a victims of this. The main problems is the awareness and the education background of the voters.

Ash
March 14, 2013 7:59 am

Does Pakistan allow any outside body to oversee these Elections. Just to make sure that all is fair and above board.?

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