Election Observation Report (Voting Process) NA-154 (Lodhran-I)
Monday (February 12, 2018)
This report is issued by Coalition for Elections and Democracy (CED) for observing voting process in NA-154 (Lodhran-I) by-election. Total number of Registered voters in the constituency is 4,31,002 including 2,36,496 male voters and 1,94,506 female voters. Total number of polling stations set up in the constituency is 338 with 1043 polling booths, 566 for male voters and 477 for female voters.
The CED teams initiated observation of the voting process right from the opening of the polling sta-tions. Polling staff was present at all the sampled polling stations observed during the day. The vot-ers’ enthusiasm geared up as the day progressed and queues of voters were seen outside 38% poll-ing stations. This number was reasonably low in early morning observation. The average voter turn-out per booth per hour was 25.53 during the day. This average remained 26.59 for male voters and 22.72 for female voters. The observers submitted their reports of voting process until 4:55 PM so that they could enter the polling stations again for observation of the closing and counting process.
Observers reported election code violations from vicinity of 19% of the sampled polling stations. Of these 19% polling stations, at 78% voter transportation and voter ‘parchi’ issuance was reported by the observers, 44% of these polling stations had party camps within 400 yards while campaign mate-rial and campaign activity were seen at 44% and 33% of these polling stations respectively.
Inside the polling stations observers noted that the layout of the voting area was adequate for con-duct of polling at 90% sampled polling stations and sufficiently protected secrecy of ballot at 98% sampled polling station. Moreover, 94% of the observers stated that the layout of the voting area was suitable to voters with reduced mobility.
Presence of unauthorized persons inside polling stations was also reported by the observers at some places for instance at PS#139 a party official was seen inside the polling station. The observer re-ported that polling staff did not ask the party official to leave the venue.
About transparency and facilitation of the observes at the polling stations, CED observers reported obstruction by security officials from 10% of the sampled polling stations during the voting process. Surprisingly at PS#133 all polling agents along with observers were made to sit out of the polling room instead of being able to witness the proceedings. The polling stations where ECP’s accredited CED observers were unable to get in or gather information of voting process due to restrictions by security forces include PS#31, PS#49, PS#55, PS#133, PS#145, PS#253. These incidents not only un-dermine the authority of the ECP staff at the polling station but also raise questions about transpar-ency of procedure. The situation warrants corrective measures by the ECP including proper election processes orientation of the security staff being deployed on the polling stations.
The observers reported that 19% of sampled polling stations were overcrowded while at 7% unrest among the party polling agents was observed. At 16% sampled polling stations the observers sighted party campaign material and at 11% party campaign activity inside the building. Overall on an aver-age 1.3 discrepancies were reported from each sampled polling station during the voting process.
The observers also reported about presence of party polling agents during the day. PML (N) had presence of polling agents at 73% male sampled polling booths and 61% female polling booths. PTI had its polling agents present at 73% male polling booths and 75% female polling booths. The PPPP remained behind and it only had it presence at 25% male booths and 14% female booths during the voting process.
No major law and order situation was witnessed at the sampled polling stations during the CED ob-servation. The security situation generally remained in control of the law enforcement agencies. This tight control started affecting the observation process more as closing time approached. The ob-servers reported from various locations that the security personal asked them to leave the polling stations as soon as the polling time ends, implying that they would not be able to observe counting process at these polling stations.
About CED: CED is a civil society coalition for voter education, election observation and strengthening democratic institutions. Its secretariat is based at CPDI