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Verification of voters’ thumbprints

May 21, 2013

AS a voter I feel reassured to learn from newspapers that the Election Commission of Pakistan has in place systematic arrangements with Nadra to verify thumb impressions of the voters who were issued ballot papers.

I appeal to the ECP to order such verification for all high-risk constituencies of Pakistan on a test-sample basis, specially for sensitive polling stations.

The procedure will test the hypothesis that ballot papers were issued to genuine voters.

The existing knowledge level in statistics and the available technology will enable the ECP to test that the ballot paper were issued to genuine voters with a fair degree of confidence in every constituency.

Of course, the results of such study should be made public.

This exercise, though expensive and time-consuming, will help to ensure the sanctity of votes. Its results will first confirm the fact, as stated by most, that the 2013 elections were largely fair, as also bring to light those where the election results were disputed or rejected as being manipulated. On this basis, the benefit exceeds its costs.

Moreover, undertaking the post-electoral thumb verification exercise will help the ECP to develop such expertise as may be put to use during by-election as a standard operating procedure.

The good work of the ECP did not finish on May 11. By-elections will follow when candidates having won more than one NA seat decide to retain one and vacate others, and for those where elections were postponed due to the death of contesting candidates.

ALTAF NOOR ALI Karachi