ECP moves to protect secrecy of presidential vote


ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has finalised arrangements for holding the presidential election on July 30. Mamnoon Hussain, the PML-N candidate, and retired justice Wajihuddin Ahmed of the PTI are now left in the field after withdrawal of candidature by Mr Hussain’s cover candidate, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra. An ECP official told DNA that transportation of about 2,000 ballot papers would be completed by Monday. If required, C-130 planes and helicopters would be used for the purpose, he added.

He said the voters (members of the Senate, National and the four provincial assemblies) would not be allowed to carry mobile phones or cameras in order to maintain secrecy.

He said after receiving the ballot paper the voter was required to proceed to the place reserved for marking the ballot paper with a cross-mark against the name of a candidate and then drop it in a box without delay.

The voter will have to produce the identity card issued by the secretariat of his house if asked by the presiding officer to prove his/her identity.

A candidate might nominate not more than one agent for observing the polling and counting by giving a notice in writing to the presiding officer.

The ECP official said under Rule 16 of the presidential election rules of 1988, any act or thing was required or authorised to be done in the presence of a candidate or his agent, but his failure to present at the time and place appointed for the purpose shall not invalidate any act or thing otherwise validly done.

The presiding officer shall, subject to such instructions as the returning officer may give on this behalf, regulate the number of persons other than voters to be admitted to the place of poll and exclude all other persons except the polling officers or any other person on duty in connection with the poll, the contesting candidates and one representative authorised in writing by each candidate and any other person as may generally or specifically be permitted by the returning officer.

Any person who fails to obey any lawful order of the presiding officer may immediately, by order of the presiding officer, be removed from the place of poll and the person so removed shall not, without the permission of the presiding officer, re-enter such place. The power shall, however, not be exercised so as to deprive the voter otherwise entitled to vote of an opportunity to vote.

Immediately before the commencement of the poll, the presiding officer shall ensure that the ballot box to be used is empty, show the ballot box to the contesting candidates or their agents as may be present, close and seal the ballot box so that its slit is open and place the ballot box within his sight for the purpose of polling.

The presiding officer shall make arrangements so that every voter may be able to mark the ballot paper in secret before the same is folded and dropped in the ballot box. As soon as the poll commences, the presiding officer shall regulate the entry of voters in the alphabetical order of their names as entered in the list of voters so that, at a time, only one voter enters the place reserved for marking the ballot paper.

Before a ballot paper is issued to a voter, a mark shall be placed on the list of voters against the name of the voter to indicate that the ballot paper has been issued to him, the ballot paper shall, on its back, be stamped with the official mark and initiated by the presiding officer and the voter shall put his signature or thumb impression on the counterfoil of the ballot paper.

The voter shall, if so requested by a contesting candidate or his agent, show to him the official mark on the back of the ballot paper.