ISLAMABAD (APP): Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has especially designed a Polling Station-wise Result Management System (RMS) for general elections to improve accuracy, efficiency and transparency of result tabulation process.
The RMS is being used by Returning Officer (RO) in pilot projects during Bye-Elections at time of preparing `unofficial results' and for consolidation of election results.
The RMS has capacity to store all the scan pages of Forms - XIV, XVI & XVII along with data stored into database permanently for audit trail accountability purposes. Before going into large scale implementation in general elections 2018, ECP has already conducted three pilots in PP-7 (Rawalpindi-VII), NA-258 (Karachi-XX) and PP-78 /Jhang-II) and more pilots will be conducted in future Bye-Elections. The orientation training sessions of officers and officials were being conducted.
Official information regarding steps being taken by ECP to ensure that general elections are conducted justly, fairly and in accordance with law, on Monday, revealed that Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms has been established under Chairmanship of Senator Ishaq Dar . It further constituted sub- committee under Chairmanship of Zahid Hamid, Minister of Law and Justice.
After 70 meetings of sub-committee and more than a dozen meetings of main committee a draft Electoral Bill has been prepared.
The proposed draft of Electoral Bill is expected to be finalized and passed during this year. It is hoped that promulgation of Election Act 2017 would simplify laws and strengthen the electoral process.
The other step is setting up of Independent Monitoring Wing3in ECP to oversee pre-poll, post poll activities and point out illegal practices, including huge spending on Electoral exercises in violation of law.
In this regard, ECP has demanded 141 new posts and necessary budget from the government to set up the Wing on permanent basis.
Apart from that already monitoring officers are assigned duties to check Electoral process (bye-elections) and point out irregularities, if any.
Under interaction with political parties and civil society organizations, meetings are held for consultation on important matters such as preparation and finalization of existing Code of Conduct to get their feedback/suggestions for making improvement in election process. Some NGOs are also in touch with ECP .
District Voters' Education Committees are, activated and are regularly accessing and motivating masses to register themselves as voters.
The Commission has also established Federal Election Academy at Postal Staff College G-8/4, Islamabad to improve skills of its officers. Courses " on regular basis "Interpersonal Skills and Capacity Development Training Programme" are being conducted. Apart from that polling staff will be trained for which lists from various departments have been procured (four Provinces) for selection of well-reputed Polling Personnel.
The other steps is purchase of 150 Electronic Machines and 100 Bio-Metric Verification Machines. The latest position is that Letter of Award (LOA) has been issued for purchase of these machines from qualified firms. Once the process is completed and machines are delivered, these will be tested in Pilot project.
Moreover, in order to safeguard Election material, four model warehouses one in each province will be established. Thereafter around 30 more warehouses would be set up across the country while verification of all Polling Stations and Geo-tagging exercise is in progress and would be completed by mid this year. The above exercise has been started to survey new polling station and present condition of existing polling stations. The latest position is that all the districts are presently gathering Geo-tag information of Polling Stations buildings nationwide. The data of all Provincial Capital and Federal Capital Islamabad had already obtained successfully.
The Geo-tag exercise is in full swing nowadays.
Some other measures include encouraging inclusion of female staff at ECP , developing strategies and implementation plans for reducing gender disparity, conducting research to identify barriers for women and marginalized sections of society from participation in electoral process and developing a mechanism to electoral process inclusive as per Goal of Strategic plan.
The information further revealed that during past few years some political parties had raised their voice that overseas Pakistanis may be given right of franchise. The pros and cons of the matter are deliberated in various meetings of Parliamentary Committees established for the said purpose.
In a meeting of Sub-Committee on Electoral Reforms , held few months back, NADRA presented a technical solution/proposal of Internet Voting for Overseas Pakistanis. Further the Chair of Committee directed the NADRA to share detailed solution/proposal with the Election Commission. The matter relating to legal and operational issues in terms of Overseas Voting has been recommended to be discussed and finalized in meeting of Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms . Hopefully, some solution will come to fore, so that more than eight million overseas Pakistanis cast their vote.
Electoral Rolls have been up dated as of December-2016 and would be again revised/updated by December-2017. Total registered voters as of December 5, 2016 is 97,016,232, which are expected to reach to 100,000,000 by December-2017.