Deceased voters, please wake up. In 2013, the total count of voters stood at 85.7 million. In 2018, a total of 22 million new voters have been added. Between 2013 and 2018, a total of 2.5 million deceased voters were removed. As a consequence, the final electoral rolls for 2018 show the total number of voters at 105.9 million.
For the record, the annual percentage of growth in Pakistan’s population stands at 2.4 percent. Question 1: Where did 22 million new voters come from? To be certain, the addition of 22 million new voters over the past five years does not conform to the population’s annual growth rate.
Deceased voters, please wake up. For the record, the death rate in Pakistan is 7.5 per 1,000 people. To be sure, the removal of 2.5 million ‘deceased voters’ over a five-year time span does not conform to the official death rate (there should have been around seven million deaths over the last five years).
Conclusion 1: At least five million deceased voters are still present in the 2018 voter lists. Is this deliberate, or an inclusion/exclusion error? Yes, our graveyards maintain registers. Yes, our hospitals maintain lists.
Lo and behold, this is a five million vote window of opportunity for ballot stuffing. Can the deceased rise from their graves to complain that their votes have been casted?
Yes, 7.5 million overseas voters are also in the current voter list (in addition to the five million deceased voters). In April 2013, Tariq Malik, the then chairman of Nadra, had demonstrated a fool-proof, real-time, fingerprint-based authentication system for overseas Pakistanis to the Supreme Court.
Tariq Malik’s presentation included real-time verification for polling stations in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, UK, US and Canada. Lo and behold, this is 2018 and now the Supreme Court has been told that overseas Pakistanis will not be able to vote in general elections 2018.
As per the most recent population census, our population comprises 106 million males and 101 million females. As per the most recent voter lists, there are 59.2 million male voters and 46.7 female voters. Conclusion: At least a few million female voters are missing in the voter list.
Alarmingly, there will not be any electronic identity verification of voters in the upcoming elections. For the record, a biometric verification system (BVS) is being used for the issuance of SIMs (subscriber identity modules) since August 2014.
Imagine, a total of 22 million new voters have been added to the voter list. Imagine, at least five million deceased voters are still present in the 2018 voter list. Imagine, 7.5 million overseas voters are also part of the current voter list.
That is a huge window of opportunity for ballot stuffing. Whether deliberate or an error, the mere presence of this window will bring down the voters’ trust in this all-important democratic exercise.
Imagine, at least a few million female voters are missing in the voter list. I understand that the electoral gender gap has traditional barriers but this gap has actually gone up rather than come down.
The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.
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