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Citizens use SMS to verify their votes

February 29, 2012

Citizens can now register their votes via sms and receive confirmation right after their text is sent without any hassle of finding a display centre in the locality. File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The unique short messaging service (SMS) introduced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in collaboration with National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) evoked a massive response soon after its launch on Wednesday, with over half a million voters verifying their entries in the preliminary electoral rolls.

“The response was swift and within half an hour after the formal launching of the service, around 50,000 voters had benefited from the service,” Deputy Chairman Nadra Malik Tariq told Dawn.

Introduction of the service coincided with operationalisation of around 55,000 display centres across the country where the electorates have a choice to go and check entries in the voters’ list. The verification exercise is an important step towards development of error-free electoral rolls.

Registered voters can send their Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) number without hyphens via SMS to 8300 at anytime from anywhere in the country. After sending the SMS, the voter will receive a message in Urdu containing their name, village, city, tehsil or district, location (electoral area) and the serial number of vote registered in the preliminary electoral rolls.

Secretary Election Commission Ishtiak Ahmad Khan told Dawn the verification process marked a new chapter in the electoral history of the country as it would help permanently resolve the issue of flawed electoral entries. “It would be made sure that the final electoral rolls do not contain duplicate or multiple entries,” he assured and observed that accurate electoral lists were a basic requirement for holding free, fair and transparent election.

Answering a question, he said those having any objection over entry of their particulars in the lists should visit the display centres in their electoral area and fill out forms available there. He said the display centres will be there for 21 days and advised those seeking corrections to get it done during the period.

“Though corrections are possible till the announcement of the electoral rolls, it is advisable to do it at the earliest”, he stressed.

Those who used the SMS facility found it efficient, swift and accurate. “I received a reply in seconds and was satisfied that my vote was registered in Islamabad. It saved me from the hassle of finding out a display centre in my locality and then visiting it to check the status of my vote,” said Zeeshan Ahmad, hailing from Kohat who has settled in the federal capital seven years back after finding a job here.

Many others praised the introduction of the service, but expressed skepticism over the door-to-door verification process that preceded it.