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Increased voting turnout a test case for ECP

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ISLAMABAD: The voting turnout has been declining after the first direct general elections of 1970 when the country observed the biggest 63 percent turnout of voters while it is a test case for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and all other stakeholders to achieve maximum participation of voters on July 25, 2018.
According to the data provided by ECP, the turnout of general elections held in 2013 was 55.02 percent as compared to the situation in the national ballot of 2008 with a 44.23 percent turnout.
The turnout of 2013 election indicates the possible circumstances of bringing the turnout to more than 60 percent whereas it needs to mobilize, educate and make people realize their fundamental right to elect and decide the future of the country as their civic duty.
Talking to this news agency, a political theorist, Qamar Abbas said the voter’s turnout is not merely a matter of participation rather a confidence infused by the people in democracy.
It has been the third peaceful transfer of power in the country after facing a long dictatorship regime since 2008, he added. He expressed that the public contribution in the general elections will depict their trust in democracy where the forthcoming elections may be decisive for a democratic regime prevailing for the last decade in the country.
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has started a campaign to create awareness amongst the voters till the polling day.
According to the commission, the voters are required to bring their original computerized national identity card on the polling day to cast their vote. Green ballot papers are for the national assembly seats while white for the provincial assemblies’ seats.
The Election Commission has also launched SMS service through which the voters by sending their CNIC number on 8300 can get details about their polling station.
A result transmission system has also been introduced through which the polling staff by using an application in their cell phones will send election results directly to the Election Commission of Pakistan.
According to ECP’s instructions the State Bank of Pakistan and other private banks have published the advertisement of the commission motivating the public to cast their vote in the general elections not as a common practice rather a national obligation. It has been observed that all the banks have displayed the add on their automated teller machines (ATMs) or cashpoints.
Commenting on the stance of ECP, Qamar Abbas said the strategy adopted by the commission for its awareness campaign will help to mobilize every single member belonging to all factions of the society.
The commission has been conducting mock exercises to impart basic guidelines to the voters as the polling will start from 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. where the necessary instruction deliberated are as follows: the voters will have to queue up outside the polling station and enter one by one where patients, pregnant women, disabled persons, old age or senior citizens and transgenders to be given priority, the polling officer will check voter’s original CNIC and then loudly call out his/her name and serial number from the voter list.
The polling officer will then mark the base of the nail / cuticle of elector’s thumb with indelible ink and strike his/her name off the voter list.
It is important to mention here that expired CNIC is acceptable while people are advised to bring their original CNICs with them for polling as no other document will be acknowledged as per ECP rules. However, First APO will fill out the counterfoil of a green ballot paper for the NA and ask to mark it with an impression of his/her thumb. —app
APO will then sign and stamp the back of the ballot paper, hand it to the voter.
Second Assistant Presiding Officer (S-APO) will fill out the counterfoil of a white ballot paper for the Provincial Assembly and ask the elector to mark it with an impression of his/her thumb. S-APO will then sign and stamp the back of the ballot paper and hand it over to him along with a special seal to mark both ballot papers with and then guide the voter on how to stamp and fold the ballot.
The voter will go behind the voting screen, stamp each ballot paper on the symbol in front of the name of the candidate of his/her choice and then fold each ballot paper individually. He or She will have to return the special stamp to the Second APO then insert the green ballot paper of the National Assembly into the ballot box with the green lid and the white ballot paper of the Provincial Assembly into the ballot box with the white lid. It has been strictly directed not to bring cellphones and cameras in the polling stations and ensure secrecy of the ballot.

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