Election Observation Preliminary Report (Opening Process) NA-4 (Peshawar-IV)
Thursday (October 26, 2017)
This is a preliminary report issued by Coalition for Elections and Democracy (CED) for observing the by-election at NA-4 (Peshawar IV). Total number of Registered voters in the constituency is 397904 including 235164 male voters and 162740 female voters. Total number of polling stations set up in the constituency is 269 with 837 polling booths, 492 for male voters and 345 for female voters. This report presents the observation of the opening process of polling in the constituency.
The observation teams reached the designated poling stations at 7:30 am to assess the preparedness of the poling staff and to observe the opening process of voting at the polling stations. At all the sampled polling stations ECP staff cooperated with the CED teams; they were allowed to enter the premises and observe the proceedings.
At the approach of the pooling stations the observers noted the environment outside the polling station. Voter enthusiasm was observed to a great extent and 20% polling stations had queues of voters outside the gate before opening of the voting.
Observers reported that campaign material and campaign activity was seen outside majority of the polling stations implying that the ECP code of conduct was not being followed. At 25% sampled polling stations, Voters were seen to be transported and voter parchi was also being distributed, Presence of campaign material and party camps within restricted 400 yards of the polling stations was also noticed at 62% polling stations.
Situation outside the polling station before the start of the polling was generally calm and no violence was reported, the security forces were in good control of the security arrangements.
The polling staff was present on majority of the sampled poling stations at the starting time. However at PS# 176 the ECP staff reached after 8am. At PS# 95 assistant presiding officer of one of the two booths was absent, the presiding officer started the polling by placing one ballot box for both the booths at 8am. At polling station #147 polling officer was not present during starting process but polling stated on time. It was observed that female staff had been deputed on the polling booths designated for the females on all the sampled polling stations.
Starting time of the polling is 8 am however 70% of the sampled poling stations started late. Out of those polling stations that stated late, the delay was observed to be 1-10 minutes at 14%, 11-30 minutes at 57% and 31-60 minutes at 29%. Major cause of delay was unpreparedness of staff at 60% of the polling stations that started late. However absence of polling staff delayed the start of polling for 48 minutes at polling station#176.
The poling station lay out at the start of the polling was found to be suitable for voting at 70% sampled polling stations while 30% reported issues of insufficient space; for instance at PS# 134 and 173 the polling rooms ware small, at PS# 95 two polling booths were setup in one room.
Sufficient essential polling material i.e. ballot boxes, secrecy screens, seals, indelible ink, voters’ lists etc. was present at majority of the polling stations but some instances were reported otherwise. At PS #147 only 1700 ballot papers were provide against total 2182 registered voters.
The CED observers reported discrepancies in opening procedure; the polling staff followed complete opening procedures at 50% sampled poling stations, At some places the staff was found lacking the know how of all the steps of the procedure. At PS#176 the presiding officer of female polling station told CED observers that they were not properly trained therefore they faced problems in initiation of the proceedings. The empty ballot boxes were shown at all polling stations however; at PS #266 the ballot boxes were not shown to be securely sealed. The polling started at all polling booths in presence of the poling agents from major political parties. The CED observers were allowed to observe the opening process without any restrictions.
All the major parties have deployed their polling agents at polling stations; PTI had maximum presence of the polling agents during the opening process with deployment at 73% % polling booths. PML (N), ANP and JI followed with presence of their polling agents at 60% booths, PPP remained lowest with 56%. However, presence of party agents at female polling booths was seen lagging behind. PTI, ANP, PML (N) and JI had polling agents present at 50% booths on sampled polling stations. PPPP did not have female agents present at 60% women polling booths at the time of opening.
The CED observers noted that the opening process remained calm and no untoward incident was reported at the polling stations; no formal complaint was lodged at the sampled polling stations during the opening process.
The observers reported their satisfaction about cooperation of the PS staff, at 100% sampled polling station the observers were allowed to observe the opening procedure without restriction. The opening process was carried out in front of the party representatives and the observers reported no restrictions. The CED observers rated conduct of the PS staff to be good at 70% and very good at 20% of the sampled polling stations. One team reported the conduct to be very bad because the procedures were not being followed properly.
About CED: CED is a civil society coalition for voter education, election observation and strengthening democratic institutions. Its secretariat is based at CPDI