Explore the intricacies of the voters experience on the February 8.
See every detail of the February 8 voters experience, learning about the difficulties, victories, and democratic ramifications.
Were the elections peaceful? How was the turnout? Did the polling start on time? Have there been complaints of misconduct? How was the situation at the polling stations? Which party was most active in mobilizing its supporters in the country?
From different people you will get their different answers especially regarding their own areas, their answers will be related to their area.
Polling started in Pakistan at 8 am on Thursday. After that, for the next 9 hours, there were several incidents regarding the peacefulness or disruption of the polling.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be out of the polling station within minutes. But if you were among the unlucky ones, polling might not have even started at your polling station till 3 pm.
If the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had been diligent while entering your family data in the polling lists, you would have got the vote of your entire family at a single station.
Otherwise, the father may vote in the nearest polling station but the son will not. Then you will be running from station to station looking for your vote.
no! You cannot send your ID card to 8300 to find out your polling station because the mobile phone services were stopped by the authorities before you woke up in the morning.
Any work in the country is bound to have inconveniences and obstacles because seamless work and Pakistan are two different things.
In areas where there were no intentional or unintentional obstructions to the voting process, low turnout, widespread disillusionment and a lack of mobilization meant that many people did not bother to exercise their democratic right.
Elections in Pakistan are a name of excitement and celebration. But these elements were not visible on Thursday.
Similarly, there was no enthusiasm among voters for any tangible change after the elections. Citizens old and young told Dawn that their hopes for this election were low.
They were disappointed and could not find a representative to vote for. But still many people reached the polling stations and exercised their right to vote.
In some areas of Lahore, especially where important leaders of the Muslim League (N) stood, the party provided food and transport facilities to the voters.
In areas of Karachi where the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was in a strong position, the party took some similar measures to attract voters.
While the voting activities in Balochistan continued to be disrupted due to which the situation in the constituencies changed.
Political parties in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa failed to turn out a large number of voters. Turnout remained low as both provinces were hit by violent attacks.
These were the first elections for the residents of the tribal areas after the merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and mainstreaming.
The turnout was definitely low but polling was peaceful in most places except for reports of violent incidents in a few areas.
Trouble for Voters
The sentiment and turnout may vary across the country but one thing that was common across the country was the management issues.
Many people had not verified their voting details through 8300. Failing verification, they then depended on handwritten slips by political party agents at camps outside polling stations.
With a piece of paper in hand, he reached the polling booth, but he could not vote because his name was not included in the list.
According to the few complaints reported in Karachi, the polling staff deliberately misled people that their vote was not registered in the area.
There were also reports from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and other areas that the votes of the people of one family were shifted to different areas of the city.
It used to be that if you wanted to vote, you had to go to a remote area at the price of 272.89 per liter of petrol. So which one would you choose?
There was a severe lack of clear instructions to guide voters to the polling stations. Polling stations set up in schools in Karachi usually have booths on the first and second floors, voters, especially elderly voters, have to climb stairs and when they reach the top, they are told that their vote is in the next building.
It was the responsibility of the security personnel and the presiding officer to guide the people and direct them to the correct polling booths.
Complaints of lack of training among polling staff were also received in Karachi.
However, polling staff in Punjab and Islamabad were found to facilitate people to exercise their right to vote.
Situation at Polling Stations
Nevertheless, people from across the country came out of their homes to exercise their right to vote. At some polling stations queues started as early as 8 am while in other areas the rush of voters increased as the day progressed.
In some areas of Lahore and Punjab, there were reports of more active participation of women than men in polling.
The conversion of dilapidated government schools into polling stations itself justified the rejection of every political party. Dirty toilets and untidy classrooms left a distasteful impression on voters.
There was a severe shortage of rooms in polling stations in Sindh and Punjab as two to three polling stations were built in a school.
This was done out of necessity because the Election Commission lacked at least 150,000 polling stations in proportion to the population of voters.
As a result, people had to wait in queues for hours. To be honest, it was the result of their slow pace. In areas where polling started on time, polling staff waited for hours for voters to arrive.
Citizens left their homes to vote after having breakfast of halwa puri and naan chana in the afternoon on the day of the holiday.
On the contrary, at some polling stations, dutiful citizens were queuing up to cast their votes as early as 8 am.
The presiding officer of a polling station in Karachi told Dawn that polling began in the absence of polling agents of political parties due to the queue.
There were sporadic complaints of attacks, clashes and riots at polling stations from different parts of the country, but apart from these incidents, the polling process from 8 am to 5 pm was peaceful.
There were no Facilities for the Disabled
The Election Commission has not provided significant facilities to disabled persons. The polling stations had tall stairs that they had to climb to reach their respective polling booths.
Polling stations across the country lacked special arrangements to accommodate persons with disabilities. The presence of stairs meant that ramps were not provided for people in wheelchairs.
Since polling stations were set up in schools, there was no question of lifts. Narrow corridors and tiny polling booths further restricted the mobility of the disabled and senior citizens.
But despite all odds, they came to the polling station, some were helped by their families and some were carried up the stairs with wheelchairs.
There were no special ballot papers for blind voters and no special written signs for the hearing impaired.