Election 2024: Overview, Preparations, ECP’s Mockup Test, and More Details

News Desk3 months ago
Election 2024: Overview, Preparations, ECP's Mockup Test, and More Details

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has officially confirmed the participation of nearly 18,000 candidates in the upcoming general elections scheduled for February 8. The final list of candidates was released by the ECP on Sunday, revealing that 11,785 candidates will run as independent candidates, while 6,031 will compete under the banners of their respective political parties.

Imran’s Absence, PTI’s Strategic Move

Notably, some prominent politicians, including Imran Khan, the founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, and Asfandyar Wali, will not be part of the electoral race for various reasons. PTI, having faced challenges in its intra-party elections, has opted to field its candidates as independents after being denied its preferred election symbol. Each independent candidate from PTI has been assigned a different symbol.

PTI, facing internal challenges related to its intra-party elections, has adopted a strategic shift. Denied its preferred election symbol, PTI has chosen to field its candidates as independents, with each candidate assigned a distinctive symbol. An analysis of the implications of this move on PTI’s electoral prospects.

Election Preps of Political Parties

Contrastingly, Nawaz Sharif, the leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), is actively participating in the elections, contesting from NA-15, Mansehra, and NA-130. Additionally, the former prime minister’s brother, Shehbaz Sharif, is entering the polls from NA-123, Kasur, and NA-132, Lahore.

Also Read: PMLN Appears As Best Economic Performer in 30 Years, Bloomberg

As part of the preparations for the upcoming elections, the ECP has initiated the distribution of postal ballot papers. Eligible individuals can cast their votes through postal ballots until January 22, with the necessary application form available on the ECP’s website. The postal ballot allows voters to send their votes to the District Returning Officer (RO).

The ECP is diligently working on comprehensive arrangements nationwide to ensure a foolproof electoral process for Pakistan’s general elections on February 8. To maintain strict security measures, the electoral body has issued a “Code of Conduct for Security Personnel,” cautioning against bias while on election duty.

ECP To Conduct Mockup Test

With just 16 days remaining until the general elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has opted to carry out a trial run of its system for transmitting and tabulating results. On January 26, the ECP communicated with all four provincial election commissioners, providing them with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines for conducting a mock exercise on the Election Management System (EMS).

The letter emphasized that by January 25, returning officers (RO) are required to authenticate and finalize Forms 28 and 33 within the EMS, and also map the presiding officers to polling stations. These forms contain candidate details and the count of polling stations in each constituency.

Furthermore, the communication mentioned that dummy Form-45 would be distributed to all ROs on January 25. On January 26 at 5 pm, the ROs will instruct presiding officers to submit results of 1-2 pages for each National Assembly (NA) and Provincial Assembly (PA) constituency via their mobile app.

Also Read: PTI Reveals Plan C for Elections 2024 After ‘Batsman’ Rejection

For the simulation, presiding officers can capture snapshots of any page, treating it as Form-45, which displays results from each polling station. Data entry by EMS operators will commence at 5 pm on January 26, and upon completion, ROs will generate Form-47, representing the final result.

Following the mock exercise, the letter directed ROs to ensure that all presiding officers adhere to the ECP’s guidelines for clearing cache data. EMS operators were also instructed to assist presiding officers in clearing the cache on their smartphones.

Provincial election commissioners received instructions to circulate the SOPs along with mock exercise guidelines to all ROs. Additional guidelines were issued for clearing cache from the EMS Mobile App after the trial run, emphasizing that the mock poll data/result should be cleared to prepare the phone for the actual results on the polling day, i.e., February 8, 2024.

ECP Freezes Development Funds

In a recent announcement, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has taken the immediate decision to freeze all development funds allocated to local governments until the results of the general elections are officially declared.

The commission, in a notification released last week, emphasized its responsibility to ensure that elections are conducted with utmost integrity, justice, fairness, and adherence to the law.

The directive aims to prevent any actions by local government institutions and cantonment boards that could potentially influence election outcomes. The ECP deems it crucial to establish a level playing field for all political parties and candidates participating in the elections.

As a result, the ECP has instructed all local government bodies, including cantonments, to focus solely on their routine responsibilities related to sanitation and cleanliness, essential for the smooth functioning of local governments.

Furthermore, local bodies are prohibited from announcing or implementing any new development schemes, except those approved prior to the announcement of the election schedule on December 15. The ECP has also directed local governments and cantonment boards to refrain from issuing tenders for any projects until the conclusion of the general elections, and only with prior approval from the commission.

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