Plight of voters, polling staff in elections 2018
This time around the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) indeed has made elaborate arrangements and also using latest technology to ensure smooth conduct of election process and facilitate the voters. Recently it launched SMS service 8300 to help the voters locate their polling stations but it has emerged much to the agony of the voters using the SMS service that they have been allotted a distant polling station despite the presence of a polling station that existed close to their residence.
Talking to this correspondent, many people complained for being allotted the remote polling station. One of the voters said that he will be travelling to his native town to cast his vote on 25th July and that a government school has been declared a polling station in his village but he regretted that through the SMS service 8300, he has come to know that his polling station is not the one in his village but the one that is two to three kilometers away from his residence.
The voters were of the view that allotting polling stations to the voters far away from their residences especially in the rural areas will impact the voter turnout.
It is not only the voters that are complaining about the mismanagement of the ECP but the polling staff itself is not happy with the assignment of their jobs. It has been learnt that in sheer disregard of seniority, some of the junior government officials have been made presiding officers whilst those seniors in ranks have been given the responsibilities of the assistant presiding officers.
Sources also said that the provincial election commission in Sindh is also faced with the shortage of presiding officers in Karachi. The appointment of presiding officer is the first step in managing other polling staff of the polling station.
The presiding officer after being appointed would ensure that all members under him would be coming on the polling day and would replace anyone who could not perform duty on the day. So if the matter was not addressed, the matter will cause serious mismanagement on the polling day and also raise question on the credibility and fairness of the elections.
The ECP sources also admitted that about five thousand polling stations are devoid of basic facilities. The sources said the provincial governments, despite the commission’s repeated directives, failed to improve the standards of all the polling stations.
Out of the total 85,307 polling stations across the country, 20,831 polling stations have been declared sensitive. Of the sensitive polling stations, there are hundreds that lack boundary walls, according to ECP sources.