Low female Turnout, Heavy Presence of Police mark PF-65 by-election

PF-65 by-election had violence, fraudulent voting, illegal canvassing and campaigning and heavy presence of police, according to FAFEN report. 


ISLAMABAD, March 26, 2010: Low female turnout, heavy presence of police inside and outside polling stations, campaigning and canvassing by supporters of contesting candidates, incidences of observed fraudulent voting and violence marked the by-election for the PF-65 constituency of the Provincial Assembly [D.I.Khan-II], reports the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in its Preliminary Report of PF-65 By-Election Observation.

The seat was vacated due to the death of Major (R) Latifullah Alizai, member of the Provincial Assembly of NWFP, Pakistan, who had won the 2008 General Elections by securing 13595 votes, where voter turnout was 52%. As many as 80229 voters are registered in PF-65 – 48987 male and 31242 female. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had set-up 77 polling stations – 23 male, 19 female and 35 combined polling stations. (Almost all polling stations are sensitive).

FAFEN deployed 15 trained observers on Election Day to monitor more than 46 % of the polling stations set up in the constituency. Observers spent between 45 and 60 minutes in each polling station to document their observations and findings on a standardized checklist that is based on the provisions of the Representation of the Peoples Act 1976, Conduct of Elections Rules 1977 and instructional handbooks that the ECP has provided to election officials.

This preliminary report is based on information from 35 polling stations. Some of FAFEN’s key findings include:

PF-65 By-Election: Voter Turnout

According to FAFEN observers reporting from 8 randomly sampled polling stations, the turnout remained 50.92 percent, which was lower than the turnout in the general election. FAFEN will release gender disaggregated turnout as part of its detailed report. The following graph shows the hour-wise, gender wise turnout:

Fraudulent Voting

At 6 polling stations, additional counterfoils had been filled on the ballot books whereas at two polling stations ballot papers issued without filling the counterfoils, indicating the possibility of fraudulent votes being stuffed in ballot boxes. Similarly, FAFEN observers reported from 1 polling station that the numbers of Computerized National Identity Cards of voters as written on the counterfoils of the ballot books did not match the corresponding entries on the electoral rolls, again raising the possibility that fraudulent voting might have taken place. At 5 polling stations, dubious thumb impressions marked on counterfoils of ballot books at the same angle with phasing out ink print were observed. In the case of genuine voters, each thumb impression is marked in fresh, dark ink and may be at varying angles.

Unauthorized Persons Inside Polling Stations

FAFEN observers reported presence of unauthorized people from 1 observed polling station. At 33 polling stations, police and other security officials were present inside polling stations and polling booths and at times appeared to have been in control of the electoral process. Many presiding officers said that security officers were present inside the premises of polling stations without their permission. Under electoral rules, even at sensitive polling stations, police is only authorized to maintain order outside polling stations in order to ensure smooth polling. They can only enter polling stations or booths when requested by the presiding officer.

At 3 polling stations, FAFEN observers reported that they had seen individuals belonging to a certain political party wearing campaign badges/symbols of contesting candidates. However, campaign materials, including banners and posters, of particularly the JUI candidate continued to be displayed in and around 35 observed polling stations whereas the electoral laws clearly task the Presiding officials to remove all campaign materials in a radius of 100 meters around polling stations before the Election Day.

At 8 polling stations, people who had already voted were present.

Candidates with their armed bodyguards were observed to have visited 3 polling stations and at 3, they were seen canvassing inside the polling stations, which is illegal. Under election laws, only candidates are authorized to visit polling stations. They cannot bring in their bodyguards unless specifically permitted by the returning officer.

PF-65 By-Election: Campaigning & Canvassing 

FAFEN observers reported from 32 polling stations that the workers of contesting candidates were campaigning and canvassing in violation of election laws that bar the same within 400 yards of polling stations.

A certain candidate had made elaborate arrangements for transportation of voters to polling stations. Provision of transportation to voters is also prohibited under election, which also increases the election expenses manifold.

  1. Partisan Election Officials and Breach of Right to Secret Voting

FAFEN observers reported from one polling station that unauthorized persons and election officials were stamping ballots on behalf of voters.

Many of the procedural irregularities especially the presence of unauthorized personnel inside polling stations, including security officials, may just be due to lack of training of election staff, who are generally not clear of their authority under the election laws.

  1. Violence

FAFEN observers reported incidents of violence from 2 polling stations, where the party workers of PPPP and JUI quarreled over the issue of persuasions of voters. Another issue was reported where the polling process was stopped again due to a bout between the workers of PPPP and JUI.

FAFEN Recommendations

Having observed the aforementioned irregularities during the by-election, FAFEN recommends:

  1. The ECP should ensure that security officials perform only their designated duty of maintaining law and order outside of polling stations and do not attempt to manage election officials.
  2. The ECP should reprimand all election officials who failed to enforce the election rules and laws.
  3. The ECP and all provincial, district, and local election officials should administer each by-election with the same vigilance and attention to enforcing the law and procedures as during any general election. The result of any by-election not administered vigilantly should be voided.
  4. To eliminate unauthorized people from being in polling stations:
    1. Presiding Officers should be encouraged and provided adequate protections to use their magisterial powers.
    2. All polling officials must be required to carry their Government Service Cards to prove their identity on Election Day.
    3. Polling officials should ensure that only one polling agent representing each political party – and carrying proper identification from their party – is permitted in each polling booth.
    4. Only people carrying proper identifications should be permitted inside polling stations and allowed to vote.
    5. Adequate security checks should be performed in order to prevent unauthorized and armed persons in and around polling stations.
    6. All polling officials must be required to carry their Government Service Cards to prove their identity on Election Day.
  5. Adequate training of all polling officials must be ensured for all by-elections.
  6. Polling officials should ensure that all campaign materials and camps are removed from around the polling stations.
  7. More generally, given the consistent weaknesses in ECP by-election administration, by-elections should be minimized by restricting each candidate in general elections to contesting in only one constituency.


The Free and Fair Election Network (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.