ISLAMABAD, August 5, 2010: Extremely high security, police barricades, Rangers patrolling and suspicious voting patterns at 18 polling booths marked the by-election for the NA-100 constituency of the National Assembly [Gujranwala-VI], reports the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in its Preliminary Report of NA-100 By-Election Observation.
The by-election was necessitated after the disqualification of Muddassir Qayyum Nahra, who won the 2008 General Election on a PML (N) ticket by securing 57,320 votes when the voter turnout remained 48%. As many as 329,285 voters are registered in NA-100 – 177,955 male and 151,330 female. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had set-up 226 polling stations – 13 male, 13 female and 200 combined polling stations. The 226 polling stations had 660 polling booths – 348 male and 312 female.
FAFEN deployed 29 trained observers on Election Day to monitor more than 65 percent 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.
FAFEN observers reported extremely high security in the constituency on Election Day, with police and Rangers patrolling the streets. The Noshehra Virkan city area of the constituency was particularly barricaded where police were checking incoming cars and body searching the passengers. Police were also present inside all observed polling stations and booths.
At many polling stations, police were managing the polling process independent of the presiding officers. One FAFEN observer was physically forced out of a polling station [PS No. 128] despite being permitted by the presiding officer to observe the voting process. However, presiding officer could not stop the police officer from forcing the observer out.
Relatively high turnout was witnessed in the morning hours, which subsided in the afternoon after it rained. However, female turnout was lower as compared to male turnout.
This preliminary report is based on observation of 78 polling stations – 5 male, 7 female and 66 combine. Some of FAFEN’s key findings include:
- Suspicious Voting Pattern
There were 18 polling booths at 13 polling stations where FAFEN observers recorded suspicious voter pattern. If the polling is most efficient and each voter is taking approximately a minute and 30 seconds for processing (checking of name, checking of CNIC, issuance of ballot paper, going behind secrecy screen, stamping a ballot and returning of stamp to the assistant presiding officer), there can be approximately 45 votes that can be cast in an hour at a booth. However, the rate of voting was higher than possible at 36 booths at the polling stations listed below. The following table gives booth-wise average of polled votes per hour. An average higher than 45 brings into question the speed with which the voters were being processed.
||Registered Voters||Type||Time of Observation||Hourly Average
Votes at Booth 1
Votes at Booth 2
Votes at Booth 3
Votes at Booth 4
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