Transparency & citizens participation in budget making process sought

PESHAWAR: The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has launched “Study of Budget Making Process at District Level in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa” which called for transparency and citizens’ participation in the entire exercise.

The study revealed transparency and citizens participation in budget making process was found lacking at district level in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Budget Call letters were delayed, no consultation done with stakeholders; only five districts had functional websites and 110 posts remained vacant in district budget branches.

“Safar Welfare Organization and CPDI demand adherence to the “District or City District Government Budget Rules 2016”, transparency and citizens’ participation in the budget making process at district level in KP. First draft of the district budget should be presented in April to ensure timely input from citizens,” said Raja Shoaib Akbar, Senior Programme Manager at the CPDI, while sharing the details of the study with partner organisations.

Divulging the details, he said the local governments (LGs) had failed to include stakeholders in the budget making process.

The official said none of the districts released pre-budget statement that according to the budget rules was mandatory and would have provided the stakeholders a chance to express their opinion on budget proposals.

Pre-budget consultation with stakeholders was also not held in 33 per cent of districts. These consultations were mainly held with district officers and elected representatives, ignoring citizens and other segments of society that are listed as stakeholders in LG Budget Rules, he added.

According to budget rules Budget Call Letter (BCL) must be issued in September as first step of district budget making.

The study showed only one district had issued the BCL till November 15, last year while 17 others had not initiated it till March 31, this year. Consequently, only eight districts were able to approve own budget before June 30, 2017, he added.

Talking about budget transparency at Budget Consultation Organized by Safar Welfare Organization, Raja Shoaib said districts performance was not enviable at all.

Districts are not making use of information technology to share information with citizens; only five districts have own functional websites. Amongst them, only one has posted district budget of the last three years at its website.

The study said to aggravate the situation, not a single district issued a citizens budget which was meant to share the salient features of a final budget with citizens in easy to understand language.

The study revealed the budget branches in districts faced scarcity of human resource. Only 296 officials were posted in the budget branches of districts visited while total number of sanctioned positions was 406.

In addition, 11 districts did not have DDO Planning. This situation partially explained the reasons for delays in budget timelines at district level, he added.

Earlier, while welcoming the guests Shamsul Hadi, CPDI’s Provincial Coordinator in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said that budget was the most important policy document of the government. In the modern day state policies are supposed to be formulated through active public participation.

Survey on budget making process was conducted by member organizations of ‘Citizens’ Network for Budget Accountability (CNBA)’ in 24 districts of KP while one district didn’t provide information.

The CNBA is a network of 15 civil society organizations working for budget reforms and accountability at district level in KP.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/244380-Transparency-citizens-participation-in-budget-making-process-sought

Exit polls – the next big thing!

The recent experience of conducting exit polls in the by-elections for two National Assembly constituencies has yielded encouraging results, giving hope that the trend would further pick up in the 2018 general elections

 Exit polls have become part and parcel of elections in most of the developed countries, as well as in the neighbouring India. Since the late 1960s, when exit polls were first introduced, pollsters — usually private companies or research institutions working for or in collaboration with media groups — have been giving an early indication as to how an election has turned out because, in many cases, the actual result may take hours or even days to count. On the other hand, Pakistan is still grappling with the concept of exit polls though a few concrete steps have been taken in this direction in the recent past

Opposed to opinion polls, which are pre-election surveys to gather potential voters’ views on a range of issues, exit polls are sample survey of people after they have voted, as they leave their polling stations. Conducted to assess the support for political parties and their candidates, exit polls’ results are announced after the polling time ends so that any remaining voters are not unduly influenced. It should be stressed, though, that the results of exit polls are not certainties — surprises can occur that contradict the trend since exit polls simply offer a glimpse into the mind of the voters.

In Pakistan’s context, exit polls are particularly important since historically they have been used as a check on election fraud. If the sample size of an exit poll is large and truly reflective of the constituents’ demographics, a huge gap between its results and the official results may put a big question mark on the credibility of elections. This provides all the more reason to focus on exit polls in the 2018 general elections.

The voters in Pakistan have as yet not realised the importance of exit polls, so their cooperation with enumerators was lacking. Further, the security staff deputed at polling stations was not aware of the importance of the exercise and created hindrances.

The recent experience, albeit limited, of conducting exit polls in Pakistan shows how effective they could be in determining the ultimate winner and runners-up, as well as in indicating the preference of the voters along the lines of age, gender, education and profession. The Coalition for Elections and Democracy (CED) conducted the exit poll exercise in the two recent most by-elections for National Assembly constituencies — NA-120 (Lahore-III) and NA-4 (Peshawar-IV) — and the majority of its findings were vindicated by the official results.

Amer Ejaz, the brains behind CED, believes that an exit poll is an important tool to gauge how free, fair and transparent the elections are. “The results of an exit poll complement the results of parallel vote tabulation. If the two results validate each other, we can have a fair idea about the legitimacy of election results,” he adds.

In both NA-120 and NA-4, CED’s target sample size for the exit poll exercise was 2,000 voters. In the former, 1,433 (796 men, 633 women and 4 transgender) of these answered the questions (gender, for which party did they vote, age, educational qualification and profession) put to them, while the remaining 577 declined. CED observers interviewed the voters at 55 sampled polling stations (25 per cent) of a total of 220 as per a pre-defined methodology.

As per the results of the exit poll exercise conducted by CED in NA-120, announced within half-an-hour after the polling ended, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Kulsoom Nawaz was expected to win with 46 per cent of the total votes cast; while her closest rival, Yasmin Rashid of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was predicted to bag 40 per cent of the votes.

The official results for this constituency reflected a similar trend. Kulsoom Nawaz won with 49 per cent of the total votes, while Yasmin Rashid bagged 37 per cent. The slight variation can be attributed to the challenge of respondent veracity or what has come to be known as ‘Shy Tory’ problem since 1992, whereby voters of a particular political party — in this case, the PML-N — either abstain from the exit poll or choose not to faithfully disclose for whom they have voted.

The same can be said about the voters of extreme right-wing parties such as the Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah and Milli Muslim League, whose candidates stood third and fourth with almost 7 per cent and 5 per cent of the total votes cast, respectively, though this was not reflected in the exit poll results. At the other end of the extreme, the PTI and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) voters were the most vocal in professing support for their party.

In NA-4, CED slightly revised its exit poll strategy to solicit responses from maximum number of voters, thus it was able to interview 1,742 (1,251 men and 491 women) respondents at 40 sampled polling stations (15 per cent) of a total of 269, while only 258 declined to answer. As per the results of the exit poll exercise, PTI candidate Arbab Amer Ayub was expected to sail through with 43 per cent of the total votes; while his closest rival, Khushdil Khan of the Awami National Party (ANP) was predicted to bag just 21 per cent of the votes, followed by Nasir Khan Musazai of the PML-N with 16 per cent votes, Asad Gulzar of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) with 9 per cent votes and Wasil Farooq of the JI with 8 per cent votes.

Although the PTI candidate comfortably won the election with 35 per cent of the total votes, his margin of victory was not as convincing as had been predicted by the CED exit poll. Interestingly, the ANP candidate who came second also got less votes (19 per cent) than the results of the exit poll had predicted. On the other hand, the PML-N and the PPP candidates got a larger percentage of the votes (19% and 10%, respectively) than anticipated, once again highlighting the ‘Shy Tory’ problem, which is understandable considering the country’s political context. Similarly, once again, the candidate of the Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah got almost 8% of the votes though the trend was not reflected in the exit poll.

The experience of conducting exit polls in these constituencies has also brought to fore some other interesting trends. For example, the youth and educated professionals are more likely to vote for the PTI; while the elderly and illiterate are more likely to vote for the PML-N in Punjab and the ANP in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Also, women in Punjab are more likely to vote for the PTI than their counterparts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The CED’s experience of conducting exit polls also shows that the selection of sample polling stations should be done with utmost care. For instance, they should not lie in the native areas or traditional strongholds of any of the major candidates; otherwise, the results will be skewed in his or her favour, as happened in the case of the JI candidate in NA-4. Also, exit polls are all about timely delivery of results and analysis and only the use of appropriate technology like mobile-based applications can make this possible.

“The voters in Pakistan have as yet not realised the importance of exit polls, so their cooperation with enumerators was lacking. Further, the security staff deputed at polling stations was not aware of the importance of the exercise and created hindrances. The Election Commission of Pakistan should recognise exit poll as an important tool of election monitoring and include it in election observation section of the Elections Bill, 2017; while civil society and NGOs should launch a nationwide exit poll exercise with the support of donors ahead of the 2018 general elections,” Amer Ejaz says.

Tehreek-i-Insaf retains NA seat in Peshawar by-election

PESHAWAR: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf retained its National Assembly seat, NA-4, Peshawar IV, in Thursday’s by-elections as its candidate, Arbab Amir Ayub, defeated rivals by a big margin.

At the time of the filing of this report, the unofficial election results from 227 of the total of 269 polling stations compiled by the Election Commission of Pakistan through the new Result Transmission System (RTS) showed that Arbab Amir bagged 39,196 votes, Awami National Party’s Khushdil Khan 21,344 votes and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Nasir Khan Musazai 21,182.

The seat had fallen vacant in August after the death of dissident PTI MNA Gulzar Khan, who had won it in the 2013 general elections by receiving 55,134 votes.

The PML-N candidate was supported by the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, whose candidate had obtained 12,519 votes in the 2013 elections.

Polling remains peaceful amid tight security

The performance of Pakistan People’s Party candidate Asad Gulzar and Jamaat-i-Islami’s Wasil Farooq Jan was dismal as the former secured fourth position and the latter sixth in terms of votes obtained.

Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan candidate Allama Dr Mohammad Shafique Ameeni, a new entrant to the electoral arena, fared better than JI’s candidate.

Overall, the polling was held in a peaceful environment as around 15 personnel of the Pakistan Army and police were deployed on every polling station. The police and army men were also deployed on rooftops and surroundings of polling stations.

Despite the massive door-to-door campaign by political parties, most polling stations didn’t see long queues of voters.

The polling process remained smooth and peaceful by and large, as the security forces didn’t allow the irrelevant people to enter the premises of polling stations.

The voters were barred from carrying cellphones into polling stations. Many of them showed reluctance in handing cellphones over to other voters.

For the first time in the country’s history, the ECP introduced the Result Transmission System for the quick dissemination of election results from polling stations by the presiding officer to the district returning officer.

Though the district administration had announced a public holiday in the constituency for the day, many daily wagers didn’t exercise their right of franchise for being busy with their routine work.

According to the polling staff members, the turnout was badly affected by the non-participation of labourers.

They said only five to 10 percent of voters in the constituency were government employees.

In some areas, the people’s votes were registered in polling stations away from their houses despite the presence of polling stations close to their localities.

All political parties had arranged vehicles to take voters to polling stations from their houses and drop them off back violating the code of conduct made by the Election Commission of Pakistan. Vehicles were seen with hoisting the flags and posters of parties while carrying voters to polling stations.

For the first time in the country’s history, the ECP conducted the pilot testing of the electronic voting machines in 100 polling booths, where demonstration of electronic voting was exercised. Each vote cast through the EVM took 20 seconds.

A presiding officer at the Hazarkhwani polling station said the use of EVMs in the next general elections would save the government’s money and the voters’ time.

“The government spends billions of rupees on the payment of honoraria to the polling staff in each election in the country, which will be saved after the introduction of EVMs,” he said.

The presiding officer said there would be no manual counting at the end of the polling time and instead, the electronic election results would be declared within seconds.

A total of 397,952 voters exercise their right of franchise in the by-polls. Among them were 235,127 men and 162,825 women.

The ECP had established 269 polling stations having 837 polling booths for the polling.

Meanwhile, the Coalition for Elections and Democracy observers, in its preliminary report, said the campaign material and campaign activity was seen outside majority of the NA-4 polling stations implying that the ECP’s code of conduct was not followed.

It sad at 25 percent sampled polling stations, voters were seen to be transported and ‘voter parchi’ was also distributed.

The observers also said the presence of campaign material and party camps within the restricted 400 yards of the polling stations was noticed at 62 percent polling stations.

They said it recorded a total of 119 violations of the election code of conduct and that wall chalking and a large size of banners and posters were the most common.

The observers said the wall chalking was observed in favour of independent candidate supported by the Milli Muslim League, PTI and PPP in the areas of Hassan Khattak, Shageeabad, Yousafabad, Telaband, Sheikhan, Mushtazai, Shaikh Mohammadi, Sulemankhel, Mashogagar, Badabhera, Maryamzai and Sherkera.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2017

https://www.dawn.com/news/1366571/tehreek-i-insaf-retains-na-seat-in-peshawar-by-election

Election Observation Report (Counting Process) NA-4 (Peshawar-IV)

 

Election Observation Report (Counting Process) NA-4 (Peshawar-IV)

Thursday (October 26, 2017)

This report is issued by Coalition for Elections and Democracy (CED) for observing the counting process at NA-4 (Peshawar IV). The total number of registered voters in the constituency was 397,904 including 235,164 male voters and 162,740 female voters; while the total number of polling stations set up in the constituency was 269 with 837 polling booths, 492 for male voters and 345 for female voters. This report presents the observation of the counting process of polling in the constituency.

The official closing time of the polling is 5pm. The CED teams made sure to enter the sampled polling stations before the closure of voting process. However at the Polling Station #235 Government Higher Secondary School Chamkani security official didn’t allow the team to enter the polling station and observe the counting process however presiding officer handed over copy of form XIV after counting closed at 6:20 pm.

While entering the polling stations for observation of counting process the observers reported about the situation outside the polling stations. They noted that situation was calm outside the polling stations except for isolated incidents of heated situation at PS #6 and 57. No large crowds of voters were waiting outside of the polling station to vote.

The observers reported that 78% of the sampled polling stations closed on time, however the remaining polling station were closed between 1-10 minutes delay due to unrest in those polling stations. The polling staff started the closing process immediately and the counting started within 10 minutes of the closing at average. The voters waiting to vote inside the polling station were allowed to vote.

The observers reported a number of discrepancies in closing process. Starting from counting the number of issued ballot papers to compilation of the results. At 11 % of the sampled polling stations the observers reported that the staff did not count the number of issued ballot papers while closing the polling. At same percent of sample polling stations the staff did not record the number of issued ballot papers in ECP forms at the time of counting. While staff at 11% polling stations did not count and record the number of un-used ballot papers immediately after start of closing process, pending it till final filling of forms towards the end of the counting process. Teams of observers reported at 3 polling stations seal of the ballot box was not properly intact when it was brought to table for counting process. Observers noted at 22% polling stations that the polling staff did not cross check the number of ballots cast against the number of signatures on the counterfoil I.e. issued ballot papers. While during the counting process at one polling station #57 the presiding officer did not show the ballot papers while declaring them invalid.

The observers reported that 38% of the presiding officers of sampled polling stations did not paste the result outside the polling station for the public. At 100% sampled polling stations the presiding officers gave copies of the result (form XIV) to the poling agents.

The observers noted that during counting process a formal complaint was lodged at polling station #57. However staff at polling station didn’t handled the complaint according to the procedures and there was unrest inside the polling station.

The polling staff cooperated with the CED observers during the counting process. All the observers were allowed to sit in the counting room without any restriction except for one polling station #235. The presiding officers of all the sampled polling stations answered all questions related to counting process and shared details of the vote count with observers.

About CED: CED is a civil society coalition for voter education, election observation and strengthening democratic institutions. Its secretariat is based at CPDI

Coalition for Election and Democracy
601 | Abu Dhabi Towers | Block B | F-11 Markaz | Islamabad | Pakistan
Tel: +92 (0) 51-8312794, 8312795 Fax +92 (0) 51 844 36 33

Election Observation Report (Voting Process) NA-4 (Peshawar – IV)

 

Election Observation Report (Voting Process) NA-4 (Peshawar – IV)

Thursday (October 26, 2017)

This report has been issued by Coalition for Elections and Democracy (CED) after observing the voting process in NA-4 (Peshawar-IV). The total number of registered voters in the constituency was 397,904 including 235,164 male voters and 162,740 female voters; while the total number of polling stations set up in the constituency was 269 with 837 polling booths, 492 for male voters and 345 for female voters.

The CED teams initiated observation of the voting process right from the opening of the polling stations. All staff was present at the sampled polling stations observed during the day except at Polling Station #92 where assistant presiding officer was absent at one of the female booths. At Polling Station #43, the polling staff took a 25 minutes break for lunch and prayers. Only presiding officer was present at that time and polling was temporarily suspended.

The voting turnout remained relatively low in the by-election. The average voter turnout per booth was 18 during the first hour of the day. This average gradually improved during the day. CED calculated the average again during the last hour to compare with the initial voter turnout. Voting turned out to be 25 votes per booth during the last hour of the polling. 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.

The voting process generally remained calm during the day. Observers from 49% of the sampled polling stations reported that no problems were observed in the vicinity of the polling station, implying that the ECP code of conduct was not observed at the remaining 51% poling stations. At Polling Station #9, 19, 31, 57, 76, 163, 193, 231, 235 and 252, observers reported problems of voters being transported, presence of campaign material, voter parchi distribution and party camp within 400 yards of the polling station.

The presence of unauthorised people inside the polling stations was also observed. At PS# 248 and 266, local officials were also seen. However, the staff requested them to leave the premises of the polling station. The observers also saw these uninvited people were also interfering with the work of the polling station staff.

The observers reported from sampled polling stations that no party lodged a formal complaint before the presiding officers during the day. However, they reported unrest at Polling Station #7, 248 and 266.

The CED observation teams reported that presence of polling agents during the voting phase was higher than during the opening phase. The PTI deployed the highest number of polling agents covering 77% of the sampled polling booths. ANP and PMLN representatives were present at 75% while the JI had presence of its polling agents at 71% of the polling booths. Among major political parties, the PPPP had the lowest (68%) presence of polling agents at the sampled polling stations

When the CED observers asked the presiding officers (POs) if there was any essential material missing, two of them replied in the affirmative. At polling station number 54 and 147, the POs said that the ballot papers were not provided in sufficient numbers.

The security situation generally remained in control of the law enforcement agencies and no major law and order situation was witnessed at the sampled polling stations during the CED observation.

About CED: CED is a civil society coalition for voter education, election observation and strengthening democratic institutions. Its secretariat is based at CPDI

Coalition for Election and Democracy
601 | Abu Dhabi Towers | Block B | F-11 Markaz | Islamabad | Pakistan
Tel: +92 (0) 51-8312794, 8312795 Fax +92 (0) 51 844 36 33

Exit Polls in NA-4 (Peshawar – IV) By-Elections Give Clear Lead to PTI

 

Exit Polls in NA-4 (Peshawar – IV) By-Elections Give Clear Lead to PTI

Thursday (October 26, 2017)

The exit poll exercise conducted by the Coalition for Elections and Democracy (CED) in National Assembly Constituency NA-4 gave a clear lead to PTI candidate Arbab Amer Ayub. The survey was conducted on a sample size of 1,742 voters; including 1,251 men and 491 women. The responses were collected from 40 sampled polling stations of a total of 269.

The survey results show that PTI bagged 43% of the votes against 21% by closest rival ANP. PMN (N), PPPP and JI candidates could capture only 16%, 9% and 8% votes, respectively.

The analysis shows some interesting trends. The gender breakdown of the exit poll result shows that 44% of male voters and 40% of female voters voted for the PTI; while the ANP got 21% of male and 22% of female votes. Interestingly, the JI that got only 5% of male votes got as many as 13% of female votes.

The voting activity also has clear connection with educational qualifications of the voters. The PTI was a clear choice of all educational qualification groups with a clear rising trend when it came to higher certification. Among the illiterate, the PTI grabbed 33% of votes and the ANP 27% of votes. 48% of matriculate voters voted for the PTI while the PML (N) was at second place with 18%. The PTI was choice of 54% graduate voters while ANP of 16%. Moving to Master’s degree, the PTI was popular among 60% of voters while the ANP was at second position with 18% of voters.

The voter choice also indicates a connection with the age group. 55% of young voter aged between 18 and 22 years voted for the PTI, while this percentage dropped to 48% among voters aged between 23 and 35 years. This percentage further drops to 38% when we talk about the age group of 36-50; while the percentage of the ANP rises to 23%. It was 18% in the age group of 18-22. Among voters aged between 51 and 65, the ANP was the most popular party with 31% support, having a very thin margin of less than 1% over the PTI.

Talking about the occupation groups, among the self-employed professional degree holders, the PTI and ANP were equally popular with 33% of votes. The 49% of business group supported the PTI while only 18% supported the ANP. Among daily wagers, the PTI grabbed 45% and ANP 24% of votes. Industry workers also chose the PTI with 32% while the ANP improved its position with 28% of votes. 41% and 22% unemployed voters supported the PTI and ANP, respectively. Moreover, the PTI got maximum support from 62% of students, while the PML (N) and ANP lagged behind with 18% and 12% of votes, respectively.

About CED: CED is a civil society coalition for voter education, election observation and strengthening democratic institutions. Its secretariat is based at CPDI

Coalition for Election and Democracy
601 | Abu Dhabi Towers | Block B | F-11 Markaz | Islamabad | Pakistan
Tel: +92 (0) 51-8312794, 8312795 Fax +92 (0) 51 844 36 33

Election Observation Preliminary Report (Opening Process) NA-4 (Peshawar-IV)

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


Coalition for Election and Democracy
601 | Abu Dhabi Towers | Block B | F-11 Markaz | Islamabad | Pakistan
Tel: +92 (0) 51-8312794, 8312795 Fax +92 (0) 51 844 36 33

95% of polling stations in NA-4 lack accessibility arrangements for disabled persons

PESHAWAR: Out of the total 269 polling stations set up for the NA-4 by-polls, 95 per cent lack essential accessibility criteria for people with disabilities [PWDs], elders and sick people, an audit report revealed.

The survey, conducted by sister foundation of Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, the Pakistan Alliance for Inclusive Elections [PAIE], through October 16 to October 22, found that only five per cent of the total polling stations were accessible while 42 per cent did not have obstacle free passage leading to the centre.

The report, seen by The Express Tribune, also found that 75 per cent of the buildings did not have level access to the entrance – adding that 93 per cent of those without level access also lacked a ramp to facilitate wheelchair users.

“In 12 per cent cases protruding objects outside the polling stations cause obstacle on the way while 98 per cent of the entrance gates are far wide enough to clear minimum standard of 32 inches,” the report stated while highlighting that smaller gates were likely to be opened than larger ones on the day of elections.

“If the ECP staff does not open larger gates for PWDs then all polling stations will automatically become inaccessible for them.”

The study also highlighted poor lighting. “Only 17.5 per cent of the polling stations possess exterior lighting arrangement, leaving 82.5 per cent sampled polling station entrance unlit at the time of low visibility.”

NA-4 by-polls: Years-long alliance against militants breaks up over political affiliation

While the research revealed 95 per cent of the polling stations do not meet the criteria, it also found that 87 per cent of these building could be modified to meet essential requirements with minor changes such as construction of ramps at entrance, leveling of pathway, removal of protruding objects from inside the building and allowing PWDs to pass through larger gates.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Raja Shoaib Akbar, senior programme manager at CPDI, said the study could help concerned departments to make polling stations accessible for everyone. PAIE members urged the ECP to resonate the changes before general elections 2018.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1540845/1-95-polling-stations-na-4-lack-accessibility-arrangements-disabled-persons/