ISLAMABAD: In absolute numbers, more people voted in the Feb 8 polls than in 2018 – but since the number of registered voters this time around was higher, the turnout actually went down from 52pc in the last general elections to around 48pc this time around.

These were the top lines of a turnout analysis, released by the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) on Wednesday.

In addition, two NA constituencies in Karachi were found to be among the bottom five in terms of turnout, with NA-236 and NA-241 and witnessing a turnout of 24.93pc and 23pc, respectively. The lowest turnout — 16.33pc — was recorded in NA-42 South Waziristan.

On the flip side, two constituencies of the mostly desert region of Sindh’s Tharparkar — NA-214 and NA-215 — saw the highest turnout of voters in the country, at around 71pc and 67pc, respectively.

Two Karachi districts among bottom five, two Tharparkar constituencies among top three areas in terms of turnout

The Fafen report said that as many as 60.6 million voters had exercised their right to vote in Pakistan’s 12th general elections in 2024, which is around 5.8 million more than in 2018, when 54.8 million had cast their votes.

But the number of registered voters in the country rose from 106 million in 2018 to 128.6 million in 2024, following a record addition of 22.6 million between the two elections.

In addition, harsh winter in some parts of the country, fears of violence and terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan as well as an uncertainty about the conduct of elections may have also adversely affected the turnout, the report said.

It said the gender analysis of voter turnout, however, needs further refinement as Form 47 from 10 National Assembly constituencies and as many Provincial Assemblies constituencies did not include the gender disaggregation of votes polled.

The regional disaggregation of voter turnout for National Assembly constituencies shows a varied pattern with the lowest turnout in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the highest in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

The turnout in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa declined from 44pc in 2018 to 39.5pc in 2024, in ICT from 58.3pc to 54.2pc, in Punjab from 56.8pc to 51.6pc, in Sindh from 47.2pc to 43.7pc and in Balochistan from 45.3pc to 42.9pc.

According to the available data, more than 24m women cast their votes in 254 NA constituencies as compared to 34m men in the same constituencies.

Interestingly, the increase in the number of women turning out to vote in 2024 as compared to 2018 is greater than the increase in the number of men who cast their votes in 2024 as compared to the previous general election.

As many as 2.3m more women turned out to vote in 2024 as compared to 2018, when 21.7m women had cast their votes. On the other hand, around 1.09m more men turned out to vote in 2024 as compared to 2018 when 32.9m men had cast their votes.

The number of votes polled by men and women will slightly increase when the ECP makes available the gender disaggregated data of the 10 National Assembly constituencies where the Returning Officers did not separately record the votes polled by men and women.

Nearly 97pc constituencies in Punjab, 70pc in Sindh, 56pc in Balochistan and 41pc in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have an above 40pc turnout. Overall, 13 constituencies had a turnout above 60pc, including nine constituencies in Punjab, two in Sindh and one each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and ICT.

Unlike the 2018 elections, none of the national or provincial assemblies’ constituencies recorded a women’s turnout lower than 10pc of the total polled votes. Section 9(1) empowers the Commission to declare polling at one or more polling stations or election in the whole constituency void if the turnout of women voters in the constituency is less than 10 per cent of the total votes polled.

In an earlier report, Fafen had pointed out areas where returning officers had not adhered to legal requirements in result tabulation.

Section 92 of the Elections Act, 2017 requires ROs to prepare and announce Form 47s in the presence of contesting candidates, their election agents, and authorised observers. Similarly, Section 95(1) requires ROs to conduct the consolidation of the results in the presence of the contesting candidates and their election agents. Section 95(9) also requires them to provide copies of Form 48 (consolidated statement of the results of the count furnished by the presiding officers) and Form 49 (final consolidated result).

However, ROs in 135 National Assembly constituencies did not adhere to these provisions, undermining the ECP’s efforts to maximise electoral transparency, Fafen said.

It noted that ROs did not allow Fafen observers in 135 constituencies to observe the tabulation process — 80 in Punjab, 23 in Sindh, 18 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 11 in Balochistan and all three in Islamabad Capital Territory.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Budget and politics
Updated 14 Jun, 2024

Budget and politics

PML-N, scared of taking bold steps lest it loses whatever little public support it has, has left its traditional support — traders — virtually untouched.
New talks?
14 Jun, 2024

New talks?

WILL this prove another false start, or may we expect a more sincere effort this time? Reference is made to the...
A non-starter
14 Jun, 2024

A non-starter

WHILE the UN Security Council had earlier this week adopted a US-backed resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza...
Budget for stabilisation
Updated 13 Jun, 2024

Budget for stabilisation

The proposed steps lack any “disruptive policy changes", especially to "right-size" the govt, and doubts remain on authorities' ability to enforce new measures.
State of the economy
13 Jun, 2024

State of the economy

THE current fiscal year is but another year lost. Going by the new Pakistan Economic Survey, which maps the state of...
Unyielding onslaught
Updated 13 Jun, 2024

Unyielding onslaught

SEVEN soldiers paid the ultimate price in Lakki Marwat on Sunday when their vehicle was blown up in an IED attack,...