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> Citizensí Group Demands Polling Station Wise Progressive Results on ECP Website
Position Paper
October 05, 2007

CGEP Proposed Electoral Reforms [PDF]

Islamabad, October 5; The Citizensí Group on Electoral Process, a Group consisting of eminent Pakistanis from the fields of law, judiciary, media, academics and research and facilitated by PILDAT (Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development And Transparency) has put forward a set of key electoral reforms ahead of Elections for adoption by the Government and the Election Commission. While issuing the electoral reform proposals, CGEP highlighted that there is an urgent need for the Government of Pakistan and the Election Commission of Pakistan to adopt, implement and announce some of the proposed electoral reforms at this stage to ensure that a level-playing field is provided to all in a free, fair and transparent contest.


The CGEP Position Paper on Proposed Electoral Reforms divides reforms into sections of Reforms Required before Election requiring immediate action and Systemic Reforms to improve the overall electoral system of the country.


One of the key areas of Reforms Required before Election proposed by the CGEP is real-time posting of polling station wise results on ECP website. Termed by CGEP to be a reform proposal against manipulation of election results, it demands that the ECP should simultaneously post polling-station wise progressive results on the ECP website in real time. The CGEP believes that the ECP has sufficient time to make arrangements that progressive results come in to the ECP by the use of technology such as mobile phones and SMS from areas where traditional facilities like faxes and e-mails are not available. Delay in posting of the polling-station wise results on the ECP website should be made illegal, demands CGEP. Generally manipulation of election results takes place between the compilation of results at the polling stations and collation of all polling station results at the constituency level. Making polling station-wise results public in real time will preclude the possibility of manipulation of results during or after these are collated at the constituency level.


Reiterating its earlier position that it put forward in the proposed Code of Conduct for Presidential and General Election, the Citizens Group has demanded that Local Governments be made dysfunctional from the date of announcing of election schedule till the finalization of election results. In the place of dysfunctional Nazims and Naib Nazims, administrators belonging to the civil bureaucracy should be appointed during the period.


The Group has urged the ECP to exercise control, superintendence and discipline on the staff assigned to it for election duty. Following the example of the Election Commission of India which has direct control over administration during the election period, the CGEP-proposed reform demands effective control of the ECP on electoral staff including writing of their performance reports by the ECP.


CGEP has demanded that the Election Commission should ensure strict compliance of laws and norms relating to the control of government influence such as public-funded advertisements in the print and electronic media, announcing development schemes by the government near elections, use of government resources in election campaigns by incumbents such as official vehicles, aircrafts, rest houses and official trips, etc. CGEP has proposed that the ECP needs to immediately develop and publicize a framework of immediate action against the violators after adopting an effective mechanism to check misuse of government resources by such offices such as the President, Prime Minister, Governors and Chief Ministers, federal and provincial cabinet ministers, parliamentary secretaries and other officials for election campaigns of themselves or their party candidates.


The CGEP further proposes that as a check against bogus voting or impersonation, the ECP should adopt the practice of random checking for thumb prints on the back of the ballot paper and matching the thumb prints with those of the NADRA record or on the CNIC to ascertain any mismatch indicating bogus voting. If it is publicized by the ECP in advance that such a random exercise will be carried out after the election, it will act as an effective deterrent to impersonation and bogus voting, believes the Citizens Group.


In line with the Representation of the people Act, 1976; article 67 (1A) that the Election Tribunals shall decide the election petitions within 4 months by conducting day-to-day hearings, the CGEP proposes that the ECP should appoint sufficient number of tribunals to fulfill the requirement of the law. This can be ensured only if sufficient number of judges are assigned the work of Election Tribunals so that they can exclusively hear election petitions and not take up any other burden during the period of hearing and disposing election petitions. CGEP proposes that Ad-hoc judges may be appointed to take care of existing work load of regular judges assigned to Election Tribunals. CGEP also proposes that Election Tribunals should be headed by a judge from the other province than the one the case pertains to. According to CGEP, a period should also be fixed within which the appeals against the decisions of the election tribunals should also be decided.


The CGEP Position Paper on Proposed Electoral Reforms also presents electoral reform proposals in the areas such as monitoring and implementing limits on election expenses, advance public announcement of scheme of polling stations; and appointment of neutral caretaker government by consensus. The CGEP reform proposals also demand that like the Caretaker Prime Minister and Chief Ministers, the ministers in the caretaker cabinet should also not be eligible to contest the immediately following election of any assembly in the General Election.

The section on Systemic Reforms include key proposals such as appointment of a consensus Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and a recommendation that the post of the CEC should not necessarily be filled from judiciary, but by persons of repute from any field. The CGEP also advises against the appointment of retired judges to the post of CEC directly after retirement and proposes that if a retired judge is to be appointed to the post of CEC, at least 3 years should have expired since his/her retirement from the position of a judge of Supreme Court or High Court. CGEP also proposes that ECP should employ electronic voting machines like the ones tried, tested and now applied on all polling stations in India. Electronic Voting Machines, CGEP holds, should be developed and applied in Pakistan to introduce accuracy and efficiency in the counting procedure.