Har­ness­ing Tech­nol­ogy for Elec­toral Trans­parency

The Diplomatic Insight - - Editor’s Desk - 21

*Tar iq Ma­lik In the midst of Pak­istan's never end­ing dis­as­ters and se­ri­ous re­mained the most ne­glected do­main in a coun­try like gov­er­nance chal­lenges, stream­lin­ing the voter's list is the Pak­istan where vote count­ing has be­come more im­por­tant last thing on the pub­lic agenda. It is true that the­multi-faced than vote cast­ing. Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of Fi­nal Elec­toral List chal­lenges fac­ing Pak­istan to­day re­quire rad­i­cal steps. But, 2007 (FER 2007) with NADRA fol­lowed di­rectly from a some­times, small tan­gi­ble steps can lay the ba­sis for rad­i­cal strong de­mand by po­lit­i­cal par­ties to stream­line the change. Af­ter all, even the­most rad­i­cal in­sti­tu­tional change elec­toral lists. The only way to comb old vot­ers list out of is laced with small in­cre­men­tal steps that leave an en­dur­ing 'un­ver­i­fied iden­ti­ties' was to rec­on­cile it with civil registry legacy. Restor­ing the sanc­tity of the elec­toral rolls is one known as Cit­i­zens na­tional data­base. Al­ready, NADRAhas such step that can have a far-reach­ing im­pli­ca­tion for the is­sued 87.5 mil­lionCNIC against the pro­jected 93.8 mil­lion way we choose our gov­ern­ment, hold it ac­count­able and adult pop­u­la­tion. It thus cov­ers 93 per­cent of el­i­gi­ble force it to de­liver. The last voter's list was marred with vot­ers. Th­ese cit­i­zens have come toNADRA­dur­ing the last er­rors and con­tra­dic­tions. This has been a legacy of decades 11 years and recorded their dig­i­tal fin­ger prints and of ma­nip­u­la­tion, where mas­sag­ing the elec­toral data pho­to­graphs. Here, it should also be con­sid­ered that the be­came an im­por­tant in­stru­ment for elec­toral engi­neer­ing. re­main­ing 7% pop­u­la­tion is not dis­en­fran­chised but have The de­ci­sion by cur­rent lead­er­ship of the Elec­tion the op­tion of in­clu­sion in Fi­nal Elec­toral Rolls sub­ject to Com­mis­sion of Pak­istan to up­date and stream­line all ob­tain­ing CNIC dur­ing Door to Door ver­i­fi­ca­tion, Dis­play elec­toral lists us­ing lat­est tech­no­log­i­cal tools is likely to pe­riod through claims or ob­jec­tions and through rev­o­lu­tion­ize the vot­ing process. It is our obli­ga­tion to con­tin­u­ous re­vi­sion till an­nounce­ment of elec­tion ex­plain the pro­cesses be­hind this ex­er­cise to the cit­i­zens at sched­ule. Rec­on­cil­ing the elec­toral and cit­i­zens data­bases large who are the real stake­hold­ers of this coun­try. This is is a no brainer, since most coun­tries where civil reg­istries the main ob­jec­tive of this ar­ti­cle. have reg­is­tered more than 80 per­cent of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers are al­ready us­ing this as a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage in not only con­duct­ing elec­tions but rolling out so­cial se­cu­rity pro­grams. An amend­ment in the elec­tion law pro­mul­gated by Par­lia­ment ear­lier this year has made Com­put­erised Na­tional Iden­tity Cards ( CNICs) manda­tory for reg­is­tra­tion and cast­ing of vote, when more than 93% of adult pop­u­la­tion has reg­is­tered them­selves with NADRA This is a his­toric step that prom­ises to bring greater trans­parency in the next gen­eral elec­tions. This is an area where elected par­lia­men­tar­i­ans de­serve much credit. It was a long stand­ing de­mand of all po­lit­i­cal par­ties, civil so­ci­ety and me­dia to con­duct free and fair elec­tions. In a coun­try whose birth was it­self the out­come of elec­toral bal­lot, it is very open se­cret that sci­en­tific rig­ging in elec­tions has re­mained a fes­ter­ing is­sue that has of­ten marred the cred­i­bil­ity of the elec­toral process. In the back­drop of this im­por­tant leg­is­la­tion, it was ob­vi­ous that the institution re­spon­si­ble for main­tain­ing civil registry was to be in­volved in up­dat­ing the elec­toral rolls. Civil reg­is­tra­tion will be used this time to con­duct mer­i­to­ri­ous elec­tions, a prac­tice fol­lowed in most civ­i­lized democ­ra­cies. The Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of Pak­istan (ECP) has sought the ex­tended in­volve­ment of NADRA in the elec­tion process to en­sure com­put­er­ized cred­i­ble, fair and ac­cu­rate elec­toral rolls with a vi­sion of 'one voter, one CNIC, one vote'. NADRA has agreed to par­tic­i­pate in this im­por­tant ex­er­cise and a con­tract with a frame­work for 'rules of en­gage­ment' was signed be­tween the two par­ties. Use of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy would put a tab on in­ter­ven­tions by “var­i­ous in­di­vid­u­als in some in­sti­tu­tions” need not to be named. There is a hope that har­ness­ing tech­nol­ogy in the elec­toral process would go a long way to­wards bring­ing greater trans­parency and cred­i­bil­ity to the elec­toral process. Trans­parency of vot­ers list is of ut­most im­por­tance but it The strat­egy was, there­fore, sim­ple. It in­volved rec­on­cil­ing vot­ers list used in the last elec­tion­with the cit­i­zens data­base in ac­cor­dance with the busi­ness rules duly ap­proved by the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of Pak­istan (ECP). In this process, CNICs in the vot­ers list were ver­i­fied. The suc­cess­fully ver­i­fied vot­ers were re­tained, while the un­ver­i­fied names were re­moved and aug­mented with what NADRAwas left with. So, here is how it worked: if you were reg­is­tered with a fake iden­tity card in vot­ers list, you are out, if you were reg­is­tered mul­ti­ple times. So, if you are a Mr. Su­per­man from Gu­jar-Khan who is reg­is­tered 26 times in 5 con­stituen­cies in a 3 hour drive ra­dius, one of your records is re­tained, while the re­main­ing 25 are 'gone with thewind'. What is more, in case you are ab­sent from the pre­vi­ous vot­ers list but recorded in NADRA's cit­i­zen data­base, your name is added to the draft elec­toral list. For a long time, our arm chair in­tel­li­gentsia has es­caped the elec­toral process, but now the ECP and NADRA are pro­vid­ing a wel­come op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in the demo­cratic process. So, please make sure you are at home when ECP folks come to ver­ify your record. One can­not em­pha­size enough the im­por­tance of reg­is­ter­ing your vote. It must be made to count. Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of Pak­istan took an ini­tia­tive to start con­sul­ta­tive process dur­ing this ex­er­cise. All po­lit­i­cal par­ties were briefed about strat­egy and were up­dated with progress through four ses­sions. Sug­ges­tions and feed­back of po­lit­i­cal par­tieswere in­cor­po­rated into the pro­gram. This not only helped build con­fi­dence of ma­jor stake­hold­ers in

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