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ISLAMABAD: An analysis has found that the quality of the 2013 election was better than the recently held polls marred by result transmission system (RTS) fiasco and complaints about the vote counting process.

The Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat) while assessing the quality of the 2018 polls at an overall score of 51.79pc said it dropped by 5pc against the quality of the 2013 election that was assessed to be at 56.76pc.

Pildat proposed an investigation into aspects of the election about which a number of questions have been raised by various political parties and candidates.

Counting, result compilation and transmission of results receive lowest score in assessment

The quality of the 2018 election has been assessed on 39 parameters under four broad categories of pre-poll, polling, counting of votes, compilation and transmission of results and post-poll phase.

The pre-poll phase received an overall score of 50pc, polling day operations and arrangements for voting got the highest score of 64pc, counting,

result compilation and transmission of results received the lowest score of 40pc and the post-poll phase received the score of 50pc.

Each parameter was assigned equal weightage and graded on a scale of one to five with one indicating the poorest quality and five being the best.

The assessment was a continuation of earlier similar assessments that had been carried out by the think tank after the general elections of 2002, 2008 and 2013.

Similar assessments in the past assigned the overall score of 37.30pc to the quality of election 2002 and 40pc to the quality of the 2008 polls.

The scores had improved for the quality of election 2013 to 56.76pc but dropped again to 51.79pc in 2018.

This drop in quality is mainly due to poor quality of pre-poll phase which was largely attributable to the factors lying outside the direct remit of the ECP.

While the quality of the pre-poll phase received an overall score of 50pc it declined nearly 12 percentage points in comparison to the quality of pre-poll phase of the 2013 election which had received a score of 62.35pc.

Pildat said it had already carried out an analysis of perception of pre-poll fairness in May 2018 terming it unfair.

It said the score assigned in the assessment had been based on the period between April and July 2018 and in particular was low on the parameters of neutrality of the federal and provincial caretaker governments, impartiality of the intelligence agencies and independence of the judiciary.

The assessment shows improved polling-day operations in the 2018 election compared to 2013 in terms of training and impartiality of polling staff and overall management of the polling arrangements for citizens as the process received an overall score of 64pc.

In terms of polling day management, a steady improvement was recorded since 2002 and 2008 when the process received a score of 40pc, improving to 44pc in 2013 and now to 64pc.

Counting, result compilation and transmission of results received the lowest score of 40pc in the assessment.

This is not just the lowest score for any single aspect of the quality of the election but is also the lowest score in comparison to the processes adopted in 2002, 2008 and 2013 when the similar process received scores of 43pc respectively in 2002 and 2008 and improved to 47pc in 2013 election which in 2018 plummeted to 40pc.

Each parameter under the counting, result compilation and transmission of results, including strict legal requirements of transparency of compilation of statement of vote count, availability of results to polling agents and display at polling stations, efficiency and accuracy of the transmission of election results from polling stations to the returning officers, transparency of consolidation of results at RO level and efficiency and accuracy of transmission of results from ROs to the ECP has been called into question.

The post-poll phase has also seen a declining score of 50pc compared to the score assigned to the similar process after the 2013 election which stood at 68pc.

Again, the assessment of the quality of this process shows that while the lowest score was 40pc after the election 2002 the score improved after the 2008 election to 56pc, recorded significant further improvements with the score of 68pc after the 2013 election and has now recorded a decline even lower than the 2008 election.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2018