Over 10 million missing from ECP voters’ rolls


More than 10 million eligible citizens are missing from the draft voters rolls currently undergoing door-to-door verification by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the deficit between eligible and registered voters has risen primarily due to lapses in the House Listing Operation conducted by the Population Census Organization (PCO) and citizens not registered with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
This was revealed in a report compiled by Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) which was unveiled during a press briefing at a local hotel on Friday. FAFEN Executive Council Member Sarwar Bari and National Coordinator Mudassir Rizvi briefed and presented the report before the media.
FAFEN monitored the effectiveness of the house count exercise as part of its National Survey on Democratic Behaviors, Attitudes and Practices conducted in July-August 2011. As many as 3,870 people over the age of 18 years in as many households were randomly selected at 387 randomly sampled locations proportionate to the population in 272 National Assembly constituencies of the four provinces, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), the report said. Each household selected was observed for the House Listing Mark to assess the accuracy of an exercise that is critical to the headcount, which had recently been delayed. The survey had a 0.8 percent margin of error.
The report shows that as many as 7.13 percent of sampled households across Pakistan were found to be not marked, raising the possibility that the population residing in these houses may not be counted, having future implications on the way constituencies were delimited. The people residing in households that were not marked have not been included in the Draft Electoral Rolls.
“The greatest proportion of unmarked households in the House Count was observed in FATA where 32% of all sampled households were found not to have been marked by PCO enumerators. This was followed by Balochistan where 10 percent of all sampled households were not marked. Similarly, 7 percent in Punjab, 5 percent in Sindh and 3 percent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) of all sampled households were not marked,” the report revealed.
The report said that about 82.24 percent of all unmarked households were located in rural areas and 17.75 percent in urban areas. The highest percentage of unmarked households in rural areas was found to be in KP at 100 percent, followed by 89.36 percent in Sindh, 86.99 percent in Punjab and 55 percent in Balochistan. The highest percentage of unmarked households belonged to Punjabi-speaking families at 25.36 percent.
This was followed by 24.75 percent belonging to Pashto-speaking families, 19.56 percent to Seraiki-speaking, 11.23 percent to Sindhi-speaking, 5.43 percent to Brahavi-speaking, 4.3 percent to Balochi-speaking, 3.98 to Hindko-speaking and 3.2 percent to Urdu-speaking.
Extrapolating the data using the projections of Population Demographic Survey 2007 by Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS), the report said the number of households left unmarked by the PCO enumerators may come to around 1.56 million across Pakistan – 1.02 million in Punjab, 0.09 million in KP, 0.12 million in Balochistan and 0.32 million in Sindh.
The number may be higher considering the projections are four years old.
According to a cautious estimate using the population projection figures given by the Ministry of Population Welfare, as many as 10.34 million people may be residing in the households that have been left unmarked during the house listing exercise: 6.56 million in Punjab, 0.73 million in KP, 0.93 million in Balochistan and 2.1 million in Sindh. Projections for FATA and ICT were not developed due to the lack of household size data.
“Of the 10.34 million projected to be living in unmarked households, 51.5 percent or 5.33 million are eligible voters of the age of 18 years or above – 3.5 million in Punjab, 1.07 million in Sindh, 0.35 million in KP, and 0.4 million in Balochistan. These voters have been left out of the draft electoral rolls being verified by ECP. The actual number of people living in unmarked households may be higher as the projections are based on the household size data from 2007” the report said.
Another population group that is missing from draft electoral rolls is the citizens who have yet to acquire Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC)s, which is now a legal prerequisite for the registration of voters. According to the latest NADRA data, the authority has so far issued CNICs to 87.98 million people: 50.34 million to males and 37.64 million to females. NADRA claims to have issued CNICs to 99 percent of people in KP, 84 percent in FATA, 95 percent in Punjab, 87 percent in Sindh, 75 percent in Balochistan and 99 percent in ICT. Nationally, 7 percent or 6.5 million people have not been issued CNICs.
The report said while there may be overlaps between the population residing in unmarked houses and the population not having CNICs, the two groups form a total of around 11.79 million people, which may be indicative of the people who are missing from the Draft Electoral Rolls 2011.
It was recommended in the report that the ECP be better prepared for the display period to improve the quality of the electoral rolls and called for investing in the training of government officials to be deployed at these display centers to ensure that they facilitated eligible voters. The report also called upon NADRA to launch a nationwide campaign to enhance CNIC registration before the display period, using all its static and mobile resources to reach out to areas where registration was low.


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