ECP to go hi-tech for fair, free polls

Voters' registration process ends today; EC Oks proposal for delimitation in Karachi; ECP sets 64 pc turnout target

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is introducing state of the art technologies including bio-metric system and result management system to ensure free and fair elections.
An official in the office of Regional Election Commissioner told APP on Thursday, that introduction of these technologies will not only eliminate the chances of bogus voting but will also help to compile the result faster  and in a transparent manner.
He said that the ECP is developing Result Management System (RMS) for induction at the level of Returning Officers that would be directly linked to the centralised system of ECP.
Results submitted by every Polling Officer to the Returning Officer would be entered in the system and through this process speedy and flawless compilation of overall result of the constituency will be ensured.
He further said that Bio-metric Technology would be used to verify the identity of voter, in case of any objection. Thumb impression of the voter in NADRA record will provide basis for this, he added.
He said that earlier CNIC number and thumb impression of every voter was recorded on counter-foil of ballot paper and now it could also be verified afterwards if any objection is filed regarding bogus voting.
He said that training sessions of electioneering staff are being conducted to familiarise them with newly introduced technologies so that these could be properly utilised and the required outcome could be obtained.
The official said that in General Election 2013 Polling Officers would be provided electoral list carrying photograph and thumb impression of the voter that would certainly help to establish the voter's identity on the spot.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has set a target of 64 per cent voters' turnout in the forthcoming general elections as compared to 44 per cent in 2008 polls.
"We are striving to achieve 64 per cent turnout in the elections, which will be possible owing to increased number of voters and rectified electoral rolls," a senior ECP official told APP on Thursday.
The ECP has widely publicized the process to verify vote-registration by sending SMS to 8300 that could be rectified by contacting the officials concerned of the Election Commission.
The awareness drive is being run with the collaboration of the United Nations Development Programme, said the official. The official said the ECP would spend around Rs 200 million on the awareness campaign.
The awareness material has been distributed throughout the country. The messages are being aired on private television channels, published through national and regional newspapers and even displayed at the ATM machines.
The pamphlets inscribed with messages including `your vote, your future', `Pakistan calls you', `say yes to vote' and `change only through vote' had been distributed and pasted at public places.
Moreover, the ECP has decided to observe October 17 as National Voters Day that would feature the holding of seminars and other relevant activities at federal and provincial level. The debate would be held on television channels, radio and newspapers to sensitize the people about the importance of vote.
He said the ECP has removed around 7 million bogus votes from the electoral rolls that would cast positive impact on the turnout.
The official said in the previous polls, the number of voters was 81 million but in the new rolls, the number has risen to 85.7 million after removal of bogus votes. He said besides double entries, the previous rolls also contained a huge number of those who had died and after their deletion the turnout would increase as the rolls now only contained the genuine voters.
Till March 5, the ECP has registered 85,738,789 votes including 48,416,413 male and 37,322,376 females. Among the registered voters, around 34 percent comprise the age group of 18 to 30 years.
The Election Commission of Pakistan on Thursday approved recommendations of its Sindh chapter regarding delimitation in Karachi.
According to media Reports, it was decided in a meeting that boundaries of three national assembly constituencies and eight provincial assembly seats in Karachi would be redrawn before the forthcoming general elections.
The seats singled out for delimitation are: NA-239, NA-250, NA-254, PS-89, PS-112, PS-113, PS-114, PS-115, PS-116, PS-118 and PS-124.
The meeting, presided over by Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin Ibrahim, also reviewed other administrative matters pertaining to the caretaker setup. The meeting was told that ECP has completed printing of 180mn ballot papers for elections.
The CEC will soon address the nation to announce election schedule, sources said. As per the announcement of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Friday (March 22) is the last date for voter registration.
Those people who have reached the age of 18 or above on January 01, 2013 can register their vote for polling in the upcoming elections, scheduled on May 11 this year. The registered vote would be included in computerized lists of NADRA after district election officers forwarded them. -Agencies