Low turnout recorded in Hangu by-poll since 2018: report

Published April 20, 2022
A view of a polling station in Hangu. — DawnNewsTV
A view of a polling station in Hangu. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: Abysmally low turnout, inconsistent procedural compliance and widespread campaigning and canvassing on the polling day marked the NA-33 Hangu by-election which remained peaceful and free of any controversy.

With only 14 per cent of the registered voters - 19pc males and six per cent females - exercising their right, the by-election witnessed the lowest turnout among all by-elections held since general elections 2018.

Women turnout made up almost 20pc of the total polled votes. The constituency had recorded a 29pc turnout in the 2018 elections.

The campaigning and canvassing in the close vicinity of polling stations remained the most widespread violation of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s code of conduct for contesting candidates and political parties.

Campaigning, canvassing in close vicinity of polling stations most widespread violation of ECP code of conduct

The Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) observers found camps set up by candidates or contesting parties in the vicinity of 76pc of the observed polling stations.

Fafen observers found election materials in adequate quantities at most of the polling stations. Inside the polling booths, necessary arrangements were made to protect the secrecy of voters except for 12pc of the observed booths where secrecy screens were placed in a manner that compromised the voters’ secrecy.

The voting process was largely compliant with legal and procedural instructions. However, sporadic instances of procedural irregularities were documented across the observed polling stations. At 24pc of the polling stations, the observers reported instances of voters being turned away as their names were not listed on the roll, indicating issues with either the polling scheme or lack of voter information particularly regarding the use of ECP’s 8300 service.

According to observers, security officials were allowing voters to enter polling stations only after checking their National Identity Cards (NICs) outside 81pc and voter parchis outside 57pc of the stations, a responsibility that was not assigned to them. The ECP may clarify the role of the police and security officials on guard outside polling stations in its code of conduct.

The compliance with the due procedure for closing of the poll and ballot counting process was noted to be varied across the polling stations. The ballots at 39pc of the polling stations were counted with open doors, compromising the security of the process. Following the preparation of results, the polling officials provided copies of Form-45 (result of the count) to the polling agents in 83pc of the stations, but they did not paste it at a conspicuous place outside the polling station building for public inspection in 44pc polling stations.

Moreover, the polling agents/candidates refused to sign forms 45 and 46 (ballot paper account) each at 11pc of the polling stations.

The ECP had set up 210 polling stations, assigning more than 1,200 voters to 156 (74pc) polling stations, which was a legally recommended limit of voters assigned to a polling station. Moreover, the observers reported more than one polling booth in the same room at 35 (39pc) polling stations making the polling space congested for voters.

Fafen had deployed 33 non-partisan, trained and duly accredited observers, including nine women. The report is based on the observation of polling process at 222 polling booths of 89 polling stations and the counting process at 18 polling stations.

Three political parties - Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Pakistan (JUI-P) and Awami National Party (ANP) - had fielded their candidates for the by-election while two candidates ran independently.

According to the ECP result, the largest votes share (48.7pc) was bagged by the PTI candidate followed by the JUI-P (42.8pc) and ANP (7.8pc). The independent candidates secured 0.7pc of the polled votes.

A comparison of votes polled to two main contenders - PTI and JUI-P - in 2018 and recent by-election shows a marked increase in PTI’s vote share, which rose from 36.9pc in 2018 to 48.7pc in 2022 while JUI-P’s vote share also increased from 36pc to 42.8pc.

According to the result, 537 votes were excluded from the count.

In the general elections 2018, Khayal Zaman had won the seat on PTI’s ticket by securing 28,819 votes. The seat had fallen vacant due to the death of Mr Zaman on February 14, 2022. The winner in the by-election is son of the deceased legislator.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2022

Opinion

A crisis of trust?

A crisis of trust?

Most damaging fallout of the constant demonisation of opponents by political leaders is erosion of public trust in politicians.

Editorial

An unseemly dispute
08 Aug, 2022

An unseemly dispute

THERE is clarity, but perhaps not of the kind that Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial hoped to achieve when...
Unfair on taxpayers
Updated 08 Aug, 2022

Unfair on taxpayers

Unfair move has drawn valid criticism as it coincides with drastic increase in income tax on salaried people and corporates.
Polio nightmare
08 Aug, 2022

Polio nightmare

AS if the resurgence of polio in southern KP were not enough, officials and international monitoring bodies must now...
Political stunt
Updated 07 Aug, 2022

Political stunt

The former PM is attempting to make a very expensive point with his decision to contest all 9 NA seats going up for by-election.
Monsoon emergency
07 Aug, 2022

Monsoon emergency

AS another wet weather system has entered Pakistan, and the federal government has declared a “monsoon...
Taliban’s denial
07 Aug, 2022

Taliban’s denial

THE Afghan Taliban’s recent statement denying any knowledge of the now deceased Al Qaeda chief Ayman...