“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all” (John F. Kennedy)
Democracy is the most popular system of governance at the moment and Pakistan had no choice but to adopt and practice the westernized democratic system so Pakistan is proud to be one of the biggest Muslim democracies with sixth largest voting population in world. By 2019, it is expected that Pakistan will be having more than 100 million registered voters. The wisest generation of living Pakistanis born in 50s and 60s have been frequently exercising their right of vote. The generation of youth born in 80s and 90s have also started exercising their right of vote. The generation born in first six months of twenty first century would also be voting in 2018 elections if they are able to get themselves registered as voters in time.
The 2013 being the last general election in Pakistan witnessed highest number of votes ever polled i.e. 46 million votes. As per Pakistani elec¬tion watch dog, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), it was the highest ever 55% turn out in Pakistani history. But history making did not stop here. Electoral histories continue to be made since then. A combination of historic developments is witnessed form latest bye-election held in September 2017. It was held due to disqualification of sitting Prime Minister. The wife of disqualified ex-premier won the election without joining the campaign even once in any manner. The winning candidate throughout out the campaign period remained out of country. The winning candidate along with other four top contenders was not the resident of the constituency. There were 43 candidates in the running. The candidates who were residents of the constituency proved catastrophic failures as 99% of the polled votes were shared by the top five candidates who were neither registered nor resident in the constituency. This bye-election would also be remembered for failed electronic and bio-metric voting trial. To orchestrate failure, only 100 machines were used on 39 out of a total of 220 polling stations in the constituency. As expected bio-metric verification ratio could not exceed 88%. Thus, the latest bye election reflected all the ingredients of Pakistani version of democracy.
|ELECTION LAWS REPEALED/MERGED INTO NEW ELECTION LAW 2017|
|Electoral Rolls Act, 1974 (Act No. XXI of 1974|
|Delimitation of Constituencies Act, 1974 (Act No. XXXIV of 1974|
|Senate (Election) Act, 1975 (Act No. LI of 1975|
|Representation of the People Act, 1976 (Act No. LXXXV of 1976|
|Election Commission Order, 2002 (Chief Executive's Order N0.1 of 2002|
|Conduct of General Elections Order, 2002 (Chief Executive's Order N0.7 of 2002)|
|Political Parties Order, 2002(Chief Executive's Order No.18 of 2002|
|Allocation of Symbols Order, 2002|
ECP remained extreme pressure to reform itself to ensure free fair and transparent elections. So introduction of technology was one of the steps taken by ECP towards preparation for next general elections in 2018. Benefiting from technology, 39 countries of the world are presently using finger print, scanning and photos for voter registration. These countries include not only smaller regional countries like Bangladesh and Nepal but also huge countries like Brazil. Electronic voting is used by more than 40 countries of the world but Pakistan is not amongst them like another more than 100 countries. Settled and bigger democracies like USA, India, France and there is strong apprehension that latest technology may not be used for 2018 elections and lack of transparency will again reign supreme which suits the existing bigger parties. According to ECP’s 2nd five year strategic plan 2014-18, the pilot tests of EVM should have been completed by now but pilot tests were only conducted once in 2015 and latest in September 2017 and proposed again for a bye election in Peshawar in October 2014. The latest progress report on the recommendations of ECP’s 2nd five-year strategic plan 2014-18 mentions that specifications of EVM stands finalized but specification of BVM is yet to be finalized. Based on pilot runs of EVMs and BVMs, a detailed plan is still to be developed. Nationwide rollout of EVMs and BVM based on pilot was supposed to be completed by June 2017 but it is not in sight in near future.