27.6pc registered voters cast vote in tribal districts: Fafen

July 22, 2019

ISLAMABAD: A gender disaggregation of turnout suggests almost 20 percent of women voters turned out to vote in tribal districts polls, as compared to 23.8 percent in last year’s general...

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ISLAMABAD: A gender disaggregation of turnout suggests almost 20 percent of women voters turned out to vote in tribal districts polls, as compared to 23.8 percent in last year’s general elections of July 25, 2018.

Likewise, around 33 percent of males voted in the polls exercise, as compared to 40.3 percent last year.

According to the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen), a majority of these voters might just be part of the diaspora from these districts, who are now residing in other parts of Pakistan, and only allocated to their permanent addresses in compliance with the provisions of the Elections Act 2017.

If the turnout is calculated on the basis of the registered voters prior to this addition, it remained almost the same as it was on July 25, 2018. Nearly 27.6 percent of the registered voters in seven districts and erstwhile Frontier Regions (FRs) went to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial assembly seats, marking the completion of their constitutional merger with the province a year after the passage of the 25th Constitutional Amendment.

The historical elections in areas that were embroiled in conflict for almost two decades remained peaceful and free from any major controversy over the quality of the electoral process. These elections did not yield a turnout that was expected, which remained lower by 6.3 percent in comparison to the turnout for the National Assembly seats on July 25 last year partly due to warm weather that discouraged people from going out of their homes in the afternoon in some constituencies. These turnout figures are, however, based on information received from 14 constituencies. Fafen did not receive any report on bar on women’s voting, though there may be further elaborations on this matter in the detailed report based on the observation of more than 1,600 polling stations and their result forms.

The election followed a competitive election campaign with almost all major political parties vying for majority of the 16 provincial assembly seats. Supervised directly by the ECP officials as district returning officers (DROs) and returning officers (ROs), the crucial election processes before and on the election day was largely managed in accordance with the provisions of the Elections Act, 2017 with nearly complete access to all critical electoral processes to independent observers.

The finding reinforces Fafen’s long-term recommendation that the ECP should be legally bound to appoint DROs from within its own cadre of officials to supervise all elections including the general elections.

Fafen deployed a total of 953 trained, non-partisan observers (858 men and 95 women) duly accredited by the ECP to observe the voting process at 1,617 (85 percent of the total) polling stations and counting at half of them. Fafen also monitored electronic and social media on election day, and established a multi-purpose call centre in Islamabad to gather information from its observers.

As many as 16 trained long-term observers (LTOs) were deployed to observe the election process and the campaign since the announcement of the election programme on May 6, 2019.

While Fafen will release its final report on July 24, 2019, this preliminary report is based on the observation of 16 LTOs on election day on the integrity of the voting and counting processes as well as the general environment in the constituencies where the elections were held.

According to LTOs, Fafen observers were allowed to enter around 95 percent of the polling stations that were to be observed. Security officials at around 5 percent polling stations stopped the observers citing technical issues on their ECP-issued accreditation cards, a matter resolved by the prompt intervention of KP’s provincial election commissioner (PEC). Earlier, during the process of scrutiny of the nomination papers at ROs’ offices, Fafen observed the process of scrutiny of 275 candidates in 12 constituencies. Security officials did not entirely allow observation of the nomination process in four constituencies -- PK-103 (Mohmand-I), PK-104 (Mohmand-II), PK-114 (South Waziristan-II) and PK-115 (Ex-FRs).

Amid apparently misplaced security fears, the overall environment on election day remained peaceful with Fafen observers reporting three incidents of violence in Khyber, Mohmand and Kurram leading to interruptions to the voting process. In PK-105 Khyber-I and PK-109 Kurram-I, Fafen observers reported clashes between workers of rival candidates.

Two persons were reportedly injured due to an incident of firing outside a polling station in PK-103 Mohmand-I. A media outlet also reported an incident of firing on an independent candidate in South Waziristan. However, Fafen could not confirm the report through its observers.

The conduct of the polling staff and security officials was observed to generally have remained in line with the provisions of the law and their respective codes. However, Fafen observers reported interruptions in the voting process at some polling stations due to inadequately trained staff and shortage of election materials.

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