FAFEN Commends ECP Release of Polling Station Results

Islamabad, September 26, 2008: The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) commend the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for recently posting copies of the February 2008 General Election polling station results forms on its website. This is the first time in Pakistan that election results from polling stations have been made public.

FAFEN has advocated since the February elections that “The single most important reform the Election Commission could make to end election rigging is to establish a mandatory procedure for publishing the election result from each polling station recorded on ECP Form XVI (Consolidation Statement of the Results of the Count Furnished by the Presiding Officers) before the gazetting of official results.”  Doing so would enable deterrence and detection of some of the most important kinds of electoral fraud that mar Pakistan’s elections.

FAFEN and other stakeholders are eagerly awaiting the conclusions of an ECP Electoral Reforms Committee (ERC) study on necessary electoral reforms.  FAFEN urges that the ERC must not be constrained by any political considerations in making its final recommendations.  Electoral reform will benefit all political parties and candidates equally and will strengthen Pakistan’s long-term democratic development.

Unfortunately, the ERC held only one consultation with political party and civil society stakeholders.  The ECP should enhance the transparency of the reform process by including them in ongoing meetings.  Nevertheless, FAFEN anticipates that its recommendation will be adopted for future elections to [1] change the law to require public release by the ECP of polling station results [2] before the gazetting of final constituency results and [3] eliminating from the total any polling station results where voter turnout was more than 100% or women were prevented from voting.

Based on its unprecedented election observation, FAFEN has published polling station results from 243 constituencies in easy-to-read graphs at www.fafen.org.  FAFEN’s unique data reveals polling station problems, often in closely contested constituencies where these irregularities could have made a difference in the outcome of the election.  This information has been presented to the ECP-ERC, political parties, and others in a series of consultation meetings, along with 33 specific recommendations for reform.

Other key recommendations relate to updating the voters list with additional house-to-house voter registration; eliminating the role of the judiciary in election administration; making all stations combined for men and women and keeping sex-disaggregated voter turnout data; and including concrete enforcement mechanisms in the Election Laws.

About FAFEN: FAFEN is a coalition of 30 leading Pakistani civil society organizations. It was established in 2006 to observe electoral and democratic processes, educate citizens and voters, and advocate for electoral and democratic reform.