ISLAMABAD: The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) urges the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take immediate measures to ensure the maximum access of eligible voters to check that their names are included on the new Electoral Rolls, which include the 2007 voters’ list displayed for public scrutiny in June-July 2007 along with supplemental names from the 2002 voters’ list added during September-October 2007.
FAFEN believes that the ECP’s recent announcement that it will display these electoral rolls only at the district level will significantly restrict the ability of people living outside district headquarters to verify their names on the voters’ list. FAFEN recommends that copies of the voters’ list should be placed at tehsil and union council offices to ensure greater accessibility of people.
According to a ruling by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the ECP must also put the Electoral Rolls 2007 plus the supplemental names from 2002 voters’ list on their website by the end of October for easier access by the general public, political parties and civil society organizations.
Meanwhile, the ECP has a duty to launch an education campaign for the public about whether and how they can still add their names to the electoral roll and file applications for corrections and objections, and for how much more time. In particular, more specific measures are needed to ensure registration of young voters as well as women, the two segments of society that are most under-registered. The Supreme Court has already directed the ECP to make special efforts for the registration of eligible women voters.
Moreover, the ECP is advised to announce publicly the number of voters added to the 2007 Electoral Roll after its comparison with 2002 voters’ lists, in line with the direction of the Supreme Court. The Election Commission should also inform the public whether it conducted any sort of verification of the names that have been added to the 2007 electoral rolls, especially since the ECP had itself declared the 2002 list as seriously flawed.
FAFEN urges the ECP to keep the supplemental names from 2002 separate from the 2007 electoral rolls, which contained very few errors of names, addresses and national identity card numbers. The remarkable accuracy of 2007 electoral rolls was proven by FAFEN’s statistically valid audit of the 2007 draft electoral roll between June 13 and July 18, 2007.
The ECP should seek the cooperation of political parties and civil society organizations to make sure that a maximum number of verified eligible voters are registered to vote for the upcoming general elections. Hosting regular meetings with representatives of political parties and civil society on this matter and all other electoral issues is required for transparent elections.
FAFEN also believes that there is a need for an ECP-hosted meeting for collective consultation on the new “Draft Code of Conduct for the Political Parties and Contesting Candidates for General Elections 2007” distributed on October 24, 2007. FAFEN pre-election observers are working in each district and constituency nation-wide and will be reporting on the ECP’s implementation and enforcement of the final Code of Conduct during the run-up to the general elections.
About FAFEN: The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) is a coalition of thirty leading Pakistani civil society organizations. It was established in 2006 to observe the election process, educate voters, and advocate for electoral and democratic reform.