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Role Of Election Commission Of Pakistan In Strengthening Democracy (II)

Suriya Jamal

Over the years, various wings in the ECP have developed a great deal of experience in both organizational and methodological aspects of field operations. The media training for the officers of ECP is part of ECP effort to train its officials to bring its collective experience at various levels before the nation through a very vibrant media and to to facilitate them to provide fair balance accurate and timely coverage of elections Interpersonal skills and capacity building training program ”for the officers of ECP is intended\ to make election experts out of each one of them.The election commission of Pakistan formed 102 District Voters Education Committees at district level as an important instrument to achieve the goals of Civic and Voter Education Plan 2016 through various activities.These committees operate under the chairmanship of District Election Commissioners in each district of Pakistan. Other members included staff of provincial and district government departments, the local CSOs, lawyers, media personnel other nobles and dignitaries from the area etc. These committees will be responsible to lead the voter and civic education work in their respective districts. These will be instrumental in the success of the ECP endeavors to develop linkages for synergies, and expanding the ECP utreach to have more direct relationships with voters at the grassroots level. Thesecommittees will primarily aim at orchestrating state and non-state stakeholders and resources to achieve the targets set under the approved voter and civic education plan, providing a forum at the district level where multiple stakeholders get an opportunity to share their views, plan and implement activities jointly, review the progress and take corrective and preventive actions for furthering the cause of voter education.
The ECP is also making efficient use of technology to make elections process swift and sound. Locations of polling stations are to be added to google maps and have started a training program for result management The Polling station wise Result Management System (RMS) was used first time in General Election 2013 and now it has been specially designed for upcoming General Elections to improve the accuracy, efficiency and transparency of the result tabulation process. RMS is being used by the Returning Officer (RO) in pilot projects during Bye- Elections at the time of preparing ‘unofficial results’ and for consolidation of election results. The RMS has the capacity to store all the scan pages of Forms-XIV, XVI & XVII4 along with data stored into the database permanently for Audit trail accountability purposes.
Geographical Information System (GIS) based Polling Stations is the facility by using which voters’ can see their Polling Station exact location on Google Map before the Poll Day using ECP’s official website. Multiple Pilot Projects were conducted in Phase-I that encompass 9248 Polling Stations of Provincial Capitals (Lahore, Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar) found successful and very beneficial for general public and ECP officials for sake of transparency and accuracy. Now ECP has initiated Phase-II drive to cover all the remaining Polling Stations of the Country. This gigantic exercise of gathering Geo Tagging co-ordinates is being carried out by the ECP with the assistance of respective Provincial Governments and the UNDP.
The ECP had proudly launched Award winning World’s First Voters SMS (8300) facility February, 2012. Since then we have received about 100 Million hits. By using 8300 SMS technology, voter can send his/her 13 digit CNIC at 8300 SMS short code using mobile phone and in reply s/he can get voting information (CNIC, name and number of polling station, tehsil, district, name and number of constituency, serial number in the electoral area block code, local council name and number). About 93 million plus voters can see voting details and this facility is available for 120 Million users nationwide. It is extremely reliable, secure, instant and speedy mobile voting service available 27/7/365 days.
On the desire of Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms, the processes of Procurement of 400 Electronic Voting Machines and 300 Biometrics Verification Machines are in pipeline and these machines will be used in Pilot Project in upcoming bye-elections after December 2016. The Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) and Biometrics Verification Machines (EVM/BVM) are two separate projects that deal the automation of voter’s identification & authentication at the polling station and casting a vote using machines rather than traditional paper ballot and stamp. If these pilot projects will be observed as successful then the scale of testing can be enhanced gradually by following the ‘principle of evolution’ as per International Best Practice and Standards.
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