ISLAMABAD: Out of the 105.9 million registered voters in Pakistan, only about 54.6 million voted in the last week’s general election, highlighting several factors including mistrust and lack of awareness that kept almost half of the voters (51.3 million) away from the electoral process, local media reports have stated.
The voter turnout for the National Assembly in the July 25 polls was 51.7%, while at the provincial level, Punjab led with 55% turnout followed by 47.6% in Sindh; 45.5% in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and 45.2% in Balochistan.
According to data of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the voter turnout at the 1970 general election, the first to be held on ‘one-man-one-vote’ formula, was 63%, the highest ever in election history of Pakistan.
Discussions with the ECP officials and voters shed light on several factors that stopped people from fulfilling their civic duty.
According to the Free and Fair Election Network’s (Fafen) General Secretary Sarwar Bari, the mistrust of voters on the system is one of the major reason why the people preferred not to caste their vote.
“Voters believe that voting for the same faces (in new parties) is a futile practice,” he said.
Another senior ECP official agreed with this point and added that many people who stay away from the electoral process believe that the existing system is flawed and does not deliver in accordance to their expectations.
Bari said another major reason is social in nature as women in many areas are not allowed or encouraged to cast vote. In the recent election 58% of males voted but the number of women who voted was only 48% women which clearly depicts gender disparity of 10%, he added.
Moreover, about 45,000 Pakistanis had left for Hajj before July 25 resulting in a decreased turnout. Similarly, a large number of voters had duties in schools and other areas and majority of them did not cast vote because they had not transferred their vote or were away from their constituency.
Many voters are also of the opinion that their vote would not make an essential difference.