EC releases new voters’ list
ISLAMABAD, July 31: The process leading up to general elections got under way on Tuesday with the publication of computerised electoral rolls.
“This is a significant day as the printing of electoral rolls marks the commencement of election process,” Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim said at a press conference.
He said the new electoral rolls contained 84.36 million eligible voters, 3.33 million more than 81.03 million in the rolls used in 2008 elections.
A comparative analysis of the new and old rolls reveals that the number of voters in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has significantly increased while it has gone down in the two other provinces.
In Punjab the number has jumped to 48.30 million from 44.64 million and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to 12.06 million from 10.79 million.
In contrast, the number of voters in Sindh and Balochistan has dropped to 18.43 million and 3.27 million from 19.53 million and 4.29 million, respectively.
Justice Ebrahim described the new rolls as a ‘clean document’, but said the possibility of human error could not be ruled out. He pointed out that the document was open to change till the announcement of election schedule and asked the political parties and the electorate to go through the lists to get any anomalies removed.
When asked to comment on the marked increase in the number of voters in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and a decrease in Sindh and Balochistan, an official of the Election Commission said the process of updating the rolls had been completed after a door-to-door verification process conducted by 200,000 enumerators.
He said bogus, duplicate and multiple entries had been deleted and names of missed out voters included in the lists. About 1.58 million youths who have reached the age of 18 during the first half of the year have been included in the rolls.
As the CEC was addressing the press conference, Senator Sughra Imam of the ruling PPP claimed in the upper house that the electoral rolls contained names of 15 million dead people. Speaking on a point of order, she said it was an important phase and her party also wanted free and fair elections to strengthen democracy.
She said it would be better to make necessary changes at this stage and suggested formation of a parliamentary committee to ‘oversee’ the work of the commission. The idea was immediately rejected by PML-N leader Ishaq Dar who said the commission was an independent body and there was no question of any oversight of its work.
Shahi Syed of the Awami National Party said he was disappointed by the commission’s decision to keep the constituencies unchanged.
“Elections without fresh delimitation in Karachi will be a recipe for rigging.” He claimed that entries of several colonies were missing in the rolls.
The chief election commissioner said an advanced technology had been used to enable voters to get their names registered in the lists through SMS. He said credible electoral rolls were a prerequisite for transparent, free and fair elections.
Answering a question, commission’s secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan said no abnormality in the electoral rolls could remain unnoticed.
Efforts were made to submit fraudulent forms in some areas of Balochistan and Karachi, but the wrongdoing was detected and the people responsible will face criminal proceedings.
He said four million overseas Pakistanis had been given the right to vote, but the mode to enable them to exercise the right was yet to be determined. He said that the postal ballot was the only viable option but it would require a legislation.
Mr Khan said the computerised national identity card was a prerequisite for voter registration and for casting vote. He said the expired CNICs would be considered as a valid document for casting the vote.