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LAHORE: Seventy-five-year-old tax practitioner Syed Mansoor Ali had to spend an hour or so with polling agents to find out his name in the voters’ list of 770 persons at a polling station in Defence on Wednesday afternoon, but to no avail.

His young grandson standing nearby waited anxiously for detection of Ali’s vote in the list. Looking perplexed, Mr Ali was trying to figure out as why his vote was not in the list while his grandson Ammar had already cast his vote as his name was there.

“For the first time I had made up my mind to cast vote in general polls, and it is a shame that my name is not in the list although the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra)’s registration information system (8300) confirmed it was here,” Mr Ali told Dawn.

The septuagenarian who was eager to cast his vote (in NA-131) for ‘change’ after he was motivated by his grandson, left the Y Block polling station fuming.

“Who is responsible for missing of my vote and I am not told to which constituency it is transferred,” he asked. Same question was posed by a number of other voters at different polling stations in the city, including Walton, Gulberg, Gowalmandi and Model Town.

“I am baffled. My vote is transferred to Sabzazar (NA-126) and my wife’s to Gujranwala from Gowalmadni (NA-124). How could this happen, nobody explains. The only thing I know is that neither me nor my wife can cast vote today,” regrets Shahid Javed who was arguing with a councillor of his party at a polling camp in Gowalmandi.

Of the eight members of the family residing in Defence, four were registered in the voters’ list, while the names of the remaining ones were missing. “We are wondering where the names of our four family members have gone. It means four of our family members lost their right to franchise and the party we are supporting is also deprived of their votes,” Rahila Shahid said.

Presiding Officer Mansoor Akhtar at a polling station in Model Town said that some voters faced hassle in casting vote as those manning polling camp issued them slips without verifying that their vote was in that polling station.

“On their turn to enter the polling booth, after standing for hours in the queue, when they were told their vote was not in the polling station, they got upset and most of them dropped the idea of going to some other polling station to cast their vote,” he said.

The irregularities in the voter lists were reported in every election, Mr Akhtar said, urging the ECP to comprehensively address the issue once for all.

Despite such hiccups in the polling process and the cruel weather, the passion of voters was indomitable as they stood in long queues outside the polling stations to cast vote.

A spirited old couple was witnessed going to the poling station at the Divisional Public to caste vote. “It was difficult for us to reach here but we have to fulfill our duty to cast our votes,” elderly Ajmal Mian said.

Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2018