ECP should conduct door-to-door verification before finalising rolls
10 July, 2012
ISLAMABAD: As many as 11 million voters could not be verified in the electoral areas of their residence and 20.4 million people aged 18 and above were not registered on the electoral rolls, finalised by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for the upcoming general election, said Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), on Monday, after releasing the summary findings of its voter list assessment.
FAFEN said that the ECP should ensure that the door-to-door verification of voters had been conducted with full diligence and accuracy, so that fair elections could be facilitated.
FAFEN said its projection was based on the population figures presented by the Economic Survey 2011-2012. They confirmed that of the potential 20.4 million unregistered eligible voters; almost 3.6 million held the Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs), which had been made a prerequisite for voter registration under the legislative changes last year.
FAFEN undertook an independent study to verify the accuracy and authenticity of the Preliminary Electoral Roll 2012 (PER 2012), which had been prepared by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). It displayed 55,000 display centres across the country, for public scrutiny between February 29 and March 20, 2012.
FAFEN's study comprised three separate assessments – List-to-Voter, People-to-List and Display Period Process assessment, which showed the locations of the display centres across Pakistan. A total of 1,916 FAFEN observers were trained and deployed to conduct these three assessments. The List-to-Voter Assessment drew a representative sample of registered voters at a Margin of Error (MoE) of 0.35 percent. The statistics were gathered from 2,134 sampled locations in the four provinces, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
In the assessment, 10 registered voters were randomly selected from each sampled area with a national sample size of 20,068 respondents – 9,850 females and 10,218 males, who were then verified at their addresses.
The People-to-List Assessment drew a representative sample of the adult population eligible to vote from 2,114 locations in the four provinces, ICT and FATA.
In this assessment, 10 households were randomly selected from each sampled location. Interviews were conducted with one eligible voter at each of these households, giving a sample size of 19,278 respondents – 9,141 females and 10,137 males, who were then verified on respective electoral lists. The Display Period Process Assessment was conducted at 6,557 display centres in 1,196 union councils in four provinces, ICT and FATA.
In this assessment, FAFEN observed the quality of display period processes administered by the ECP in order to analyse fairness, neutrality and transparency, based on ECP's Manual of Instructions provided to the officials managing the display centres.
The List-to-Voter Assessment established that one in every eight voters (13 percent) was not found at the address listed on the electoral roll, indicating that these voters might be living in another electoral area and had been left out by the ECP verification last year.
FAFEN confirmed that any voter registered in one area, intending to vote in another area, would not be able to cast a ballot on election day.
Another disturbing aspect of the new electoral roll, according to FAFEN, is a high number of eligible voters above the age of 18 years who seem not to be registered as voters.
The FAFEN study indicates that 3.44 percent of all eligible voters – adults in possession of CNICs – are not registered on the PER 2012. Extrapolating on the basis of estimates of population of 18 years and above, as contained in the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2011-2012, there may be 3.59 million people with CNICs, who have not been registered as voters on PER 2012.
Based on the ECP's and NADRA's official statements that all people who were issued CNICs before December 31, 2011, were included on PER 2010, these 3.59 million people might be those whose CNICs were under process on the given date or who were registered between January 1 and June 30, 2012.
The highest level of under registration of eligible voters (with CNICs) was documented in Sindh at 5.62 percent, which was followed by Balochistan at 5.19 percent, FATA at 4.36 percent, Punjab at 2.79 percent, KP at 2.2 percent and ICT at 1.65 percent.
For this study, FAFEN has only assessed the extent to which eligible voters of 18 years and above with CNICs were not registered as voters on PER 2012. However, there may be an even higher number of eligible voters of 18 years and above who do not have CNICs and hence are not registered as voters.
This may also explain the lower number of women registered on PER 2012 compared to males. According to NADRA, the total number of women included in the national database is 39.1 million. Out of these, 5.16 million are in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, more than 560,000 in FATA, 21.68 million in Punjab, 8.51 million in Sindh, 1.42 million in Balochistan, which are more than 384,000 in ICT, more than 266,000 in Giglit-Baltistan and 1.10 million in Azad Kashmir.