ISLAMABAD: As the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has asked the provincial election commissioners to update voters’ lists, the number of registered voters is likely to increase from the existing 109 million to 113m, it emerged on Sunday.

A senior ECP official told Dawn that provisional electoral rolls would be published and displayed at the union council level in November to invite objections in view of the upcoming local government polls in the provinces. He said he expected an increase of four million voters in the updated lists. The voters, he added, would be given three weeks to check the provisional lists for corrections.

The official said the term of local bodies in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had expired on Jan 27 and Aug 28, respectively.

He said the KP Assembly had enacted a new local government law and was in the process of making rules. He said that after the issuance of a notification in this regard, the process of delimitation would commence in the province. Likewise, he added, Punjab had passed a new law and rules were being framed.

In response to a question, the official said the delimitation exercise could take six to seven months to complete. He said it had not been decided so far if polling for the local government elections would be held the same day in all the provinces or it would be staggered.

Provisional electoral rolls to be displayed in November for local bodies polls

Currently, he said, work was under way to remove an anomaly in the list which shows voters registered at a third address, other than their permanent and temporary addresses mentioned on their computerised national identity cards. The number of such voters was 11 million at the start of the process, he added.

The official, who sought anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media, said that before the provincial assembly elections in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), all the voters of the respective constituencies had been registered on their permanent or temporary addresses.

Likewise, he added, it was done in every constituency where by-elections took place. He said the ECP wanted to complete the process before the local government elections take place in the country.

According to a decision taken in December, all voters enrolled on a ‘third address’ other than their temporary or permanent addresses would be registered in the electoral area of their permanent addresses after the expiry of the initial deadline of Dec 31, 2018.

Under Section 27 of the Elections Act, a person shall be deemed to be a resident of an electoral area if his temporary or permanent address on the CNIC issued by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) was in the said electoral area. Sub-section 4 of Section 27 of the Elections Act reads: “Notwithstanding, anything contained in this section or any other provision of this Chapter, the registration of a voter at an address other than the permanent or temporary address mentioned in his national identity card shall remain valid till he applies for transfer of his vote or for modification or renewal of his national identity card in which case his vote shall be registered according to the temporary or permanent address mentioned in the national identity card.”

However, a proviso with the sub-section reads: “Provided that this sub-section (4) including this proviso shall stand omitted on December 31, 2018.”

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2019

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