FAFEN Observers Find Display Centers Closed on Opening Day

ISLAMABAD, JUNE 13, 2007 – Preliminary findings from observers of the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) reveal that most Election Commission Display Centers visited in 40 districts were closed despite firm indications that they would be ready to serve the Pakistani public nationwide.  At least 400 Display Centers were reported to be closed all day, and many of the ones that opened were shut down by 2:00PM.

Today marked the beginning of the widely-announced Draft Electoral Roll Display Period, a 21-day span for eligible, Pakistani voters to register to vote and make corrections or file objections to the existing voter list.

Based on its mandate, 750 FAFEN observers monitored approximately 1,500 Display Centers today, observing how accessible they were to Pakistanis during this critical time in preparation for the next general elections. Reports from the observers pointed to other inadequate preparations in some locations, including unavailability of the Electoral Roll, uninformed, absent or ill-prepared Display Centre Information Officers (DCIOs), and failure to notify appropriate officials that their facilities had been designated as Display Centers.

The public display of the new voters’ list will enable eligible voters who turned 18 years old on or before January 1st of this year to check or add their names to the electoral roll. The Election Commission planned to open 45,403 Display Centers around the country for this purpose. Eligible voters must be registered correctly on this new computerized list in order to vote in the next general elections.

There are 20 days left in the Display Period, and FAFEN observers in 110 districts will continue to monitor it as it progresses, observing over 18,000 Display Centers throughout the country.  A detailed observation report will be available after the first week of the Display Period and will be accessible at www.fafen.org.

About Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN)

FAFEN, a coalition of thirty leading Pakistani civil society organizations, was established in 2006 to observe election processes, educate voters, and advocate for electoral and democratic reform.