Legal Framework of Pakistan’s Election.
As per the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan elections are required to be held within 60 days if an Assembly completes its 5 years tenure and within 90 days if it dissolves before completion of its term. You should know that President/Governor Appoints Care Taker Prime Minister (PM) and Chief Minster (CM) respectively. It is provided that PM/CM and Leader of the Opposition of the outgoing assembly will have 3 days to agree on the name of any person to be appointed as PM/CM. However, if they do not agree, each of them will forward 2 nominees to the committee constituted by the Speaker of the National Assembly which will consist of 8 members of the outgoing National Assembly or Senate (6 members in case of provincial assembly). Half of the members of the committee will be nominated by the PM/CM and half by the Leader of the Opposition. The committee also have three days to finalize name amongst 4 referred nominees. In case of failure of the Committee, the names shall be referred to the ECP for finalization of name within two days.
Note: Pl refer to Articles 224 & 224-A of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
The President shall announce the date or dates of the general elections after consultation with the Commission. Thereafter the Commission shall notify the Election Programme in the official Gazette and will publish it on its website. Election Programme shall stipulate the last date for making nominations, the last date for publication of names of the nominated candidates, the last date for the scrutiny of nominations, the last date for filing of appeals against acceptance or rejection of nominations, the last date for decision of appeals, the last date for publication of the revised list of candidates, the last date for the withdrawal of candidature, the date for allocation of symbols to contesting candidates and publication of list of contesting candidates, and the date or dates on which a poll shall, if necessary, be taken, which or the first of which shall be a date not earlier than the twenty-eighth day after the publication of the revised list of candidates.
Note: Pl refer to Sections 57, 58 of the Elections Act, 2017 & Rule 165 of the Elections Rules, 2017.
Appointment of DROs, ROs and AROs
Being a Journalist covering elections you should know about appointment of District Returning Officers (DROs), Returning Officers (ROs) and Assistant Returning Officers (AROs). As per new law the Commission shall, at least sixty days prior to the issuance of Election Programme (save for bye-elections or in exceptional circumstances) appoint District Returning Officers (Grade 18 or above) for each District/Agency, Returning Officers (Grade 17 or above) for each Constituency and Assistant Returning Officers (Grade 16 or above) to assist RO in a constituency from amongst its own officers subject to availability, by selection from a list of officers provided by the Government or a Provincial Government; or from the subordinate judiciary in consultation with the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court.
Note: Pl refer to Sections 50, 51, 52 & 54 of the Act and Rules 46 & 47.
Selection of Polling Stations
You should know that as a result of new enactment, it is necessary it is the duty of the Election Commission of Pakistan that within one week of appointment of Returning Officers, provide them the list of proposed polling stations of their relevant constituencies. The electoral areas assigned to each polling station will be mentioned in the List of Proposed Polling Stations and this list shall be published on ECPs Website.
The Commission shall, as far as practicable, retain the polling stations established for the preceding election but it may add to or alter the list as may be required to reduce the distance preferably to one kilometer between a polling station and the voters assigned to it. As far as practicable, not more than twelve hundred voters shall be assigned to a polling station and not more than three hundred voters shall be assigned to a polling booth, and reasons for any deviation shall be recorded in writing. Within fifteen days of the receipt of the list of polling stations, the Returning Officer shall personally verify the proposed polling stations; may add to or alter the list as he may deem necessary; and shall publish outside her/his office the preliminary list of polling stations, inviting objections and suggestions, if any, to be filed within twenty-one days of its publication.
A voter may file an objection or a suggestion with the District Returning Officer, within the specified period, only in connection with the polling station to which he has been assigned If any objections regarding polling stations suggested in Provisional List filed before the District Returning Officer within fixed time, S/he may, after hearing the objections, making necessary enquiry, make alterations in the said List. The DRO will publish the Final List of Polling Stations of each constituency of the District, in the official Gazette and on ECPs Website, at least 30 days before the Polling day.. The District Returning Officer shall not make any change in the final list of polling stations published in the official Gazette, save in very exceptional circumstances, for reasons to be recorded, with the prior approval of the Commission and after notice to the candidates.
A polling station shall be situated in a Government building in the constituency. Where no Government building is available, a polling station may be established in a building owned by a private educational institution registered with the concerned education authorities or an improvised polling station shall be set up on a public property.
While finalizing the list of polling stations of a constituency, if the District Returning Officer declares a polling station as highly sensitive, the Commission may, in addition to appropriate security measures as may be taken, install or direct any Government to install a surveillance camera in each polling booth of such polling station to record poll proceedings, counting of vote process and preparation of results by the Presiding Officer.
Note: Pl refer to S. 59 of the Act and Rule 50.
Appointment of Presiding Officers and Polling Officers
A Returning Officer shall appoint for each polling station a Presiding Officer (Grade 16 or above), Assistant Presiding Officers (Grade 11 or above) (two in case of simultaneous elections for NA and PA and 1 in case of election for any one for each booth of a polling station) and Polling Officers (Grade 5 or above) (one for each booth of a polling station) from amongst the officers of any Government or corporations, autonomous or semi-autonomous bodies controlled by any Government.
The Returning Officer shall, at least thirty days before the polling day, submit to the District Returning Officer for approval a list of such Presiding Officers, Assistant Presiding Officers and Polling Officers including 5% reserved staff as may be determined by the Commission, and no change in the list shall be made thereafter save in exceptional circumstances, for reasons to be recorded, and with the approval of the Commission.
Note: Pl refer to Ss. 53 & 54 of the Act and Rule 48.
Nomination for election
Any voter of a constituency may propose or second the name of any qualified person to be a candidate for Member for that constituency but no voter shall subscribe to more than one nomination papers either as proposer or seconder.
Every Nomination shall be made by a separate nomination paper on the Form-A (Form Prescribed for this Purpose in the Elections Act, 2017). Each Nomination Paper will be signed by both Proposer and Seconder whereas the Candidate shall also make provided declarations on solemn affirmation and sign the same.—
- A declaration that s/he has consented to the nomination and that s/he fulfills the qualifications specified in Article 62 and is not subject to any of the disqualifications specified in Article 63 or any other law for being elected as a Member;
- A declaration that s/he has opened an exclusive account with a scheduled bank for the purpose of election expenses;
- A statement specifying her/her/his educational qualifications, occupation and National Identity Card number along with attested copies of these documents, where applicable; and
- A Wealth Statement including assets and liabilities of her/her/his spouse and dependent children as on the preceding thirtieth day of June on the form prescribed under the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001.
Every nomination paper shall be delivered to the Returning Officer by the candidate or her/ her/his proposer or seconder or if so authorized in writing by the candidate, by her/her/his nominee and the Returning Officer shall acknowledge receipt of the nomination paper specifying the date and time of receipt.
A person may be nominated in the same constituency by not more than five nomination papers.
The Returning Officer shall assign a serial number to every nomination paper and endorse on the nomination paper the name of the person presenting it, and the date and time of its receipt, and inform such person of the time and place at which he shall hold scrutiny.
The Returning Officer shall cause to be affixed at a conspicuous place in her/his office a notice of every nomination paper received by her/him containing the particulars of the candidate as shown in the nomination paper.
The Returning Officer shall make the Forms and accompanying declarations and statements open to inspection by the public; and issue certified copies of these documents on payment of fee @ Rs. 10/- per page.
The Returning Officer shall not accept a nomination paper unless a sum of thirty thousand rupees for election to a seat in the National Assembly and twenty thousand rupees for election to a seat in the Provincial Assembly is deposited by the candidate or by any person on her/his behalf in cash with the Returning Officer; or through bank draft drawn in favour of the Returning Officer; or in cash in a specified account with any branch of the National Bank of Pakistan, receipt of which should be produced before the Returning Officer. Not more than one deposit shall be required in the case of a person who has been nominated as a candidate by more than one nomination paper.
After termination or conclusion of the election, a candidate, not being the returned candidate and obtained more than one-fourth of the total votes polled in the constituency, may obtain return of the amount deposited by her/her/him if the application is submitted within three months from the date of declaration of result of the election by the commission or, in case election is not held, from the date of termination of the proceedings of an election.
Note: Pl refer to Ss. 60 & 61 of the Act and Rules 51 & 52.
Any voter of a constituency may file objections to the candidature of a candidate of that constituency before the Returning Officer within the period specified by the Commission for the scrutiny of nomination papers of candidates contesting election to an Assembly.
The candidates, their election agents, the proposers and seconders and one other person authorized in her/his behalf by each candidate, and a voter who has filed an objection may attend the scrutiny of nomination papers, and the Returning Officer shall give them reasonable opportunity for examining all the nomination papers delivered to her/her/him.
A voter who has filed an objection to the candidature of a candidate shall only attend the scrutiny of the nomination paper of that candidate.
The Returning Officer shall, in the presence of the persons attending the scrutiny, examine the nomination papers and decide any objection raised by any such person to any candidature.
The Returning Officer may, for the purpose of scrutiny, require any agency, authority or organization, including a financial institution, to produce any document or record or to furnish any information as may be necessary to determine facts relating to an objection to the candidature of a candidate.
The Returning Officer shall not enquire into the correctness or validity of any entry in the electoral roll.
The Returning Officer, while scrutinizing nomination paper of a candidate, shall not ask any question which has no nexus with the information supplied in the nomination paper; or has not arisen from the objections raised by any person or from information received by /her/him under her/his section.
The declarations submitted by the candidate along with Nomination Papers shall only be questioned by the Returning Officer if there is tangible material to the contrary available on record.
The Returning Officer may, on either of her/his own motion or upon an objection, conduct a summary enquiry and may reject a nomination paper if he is satisfied that—
The candidate is not qualified to be elected as a Member;
the proposer or the seconder is not qualified to subscribe to the nomination paper;
Any or all of required declarations or statements has not been submitted or the candidate has submitted a declaration or statement which is false or incorrect in any material particular; or the signature of the proposer or the seconder is not genuine:
Provided that the rejection of a nomination paper shall not invalidate the nomination of a candidate by any other valid nomination paper; or the Returning Officer shall not reject a nomination paper on the ground of any defect which is not of a substantial nature and may allow any such defect to be remedied forthwith, including an error in regard to the name, serial number in the electoral roll or other particulars of the candidate or her/his proposer or seconder so as to bring them in conformity with the corresponding entries in the electoral roll.
Where a candidate deposits any amount of loan, tax or government dues and utility expenses payable by her/her/him of which s/he is unaware at the time of filing of her/his nomination paper, such nomination paper shall not be rejected on the ground of default in payment of such loan, taxes or government dues and utility expenses.
The Returning Officer shall endorse on each nomination paper her/his decision accepting or rejecting it and shall, in the case of rejection, record brief reasons for rejection of the nomination paper.
Note: Pl refer to S. 62 of the Act.
Appeal against scrutiny order
A candidate or the objector may, within the time specified by the Commission, file an appeal against the decision of the Returning Officer rejecting or accepting a nomination paper to an Appellate Tribunal constituted for the constituency consisting of a person who is a Judge of a High Court appointed by the Commission in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned:
Provided that where the number of appeals so necessitate, the Commission may appoint a person as Tribunal who has been a judge of a High Court in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned.
An Appellate Tribunal shall summarily decide an appeal within such time as may be notified by the Commission and any order passed on the appeal shall be final. If the Appellate Tribunal is not able to decide the appeal within the time fixed by the Commission, the appeal shall abate and decision of the Returning Officer shall be final. If, on the basis of information or material coming to its knowledge by any source, an Appellate Tribunal is of the opinion that a candidate whose nomination paper has been accepted is a defaulter of loans, taxes, government dues and utility expenses or has had any loan written off or has willfully concealed such fact or suffers from any other disqualification from being elected as a Member of an Assembly, it may, on its own motion, call upon such candidate to show cause why her/his nomination papers may not be rejected. If the Appellate Tribunal is satisfied that the candidate is actually a defaulter or has had a loan written off or suffers from any disqualification, it may reject the nomination paper.
Note: Pl refer to S. 63 of the Act and Rule 54.
Publication of list of candidates
The Returning Officer shall, after the scrutiny of nomination papers, prepare and display in the prescribed manner a list of validly nominated candidates. In case an appeal against the decision of the Returning Officer is accepted by the Appellate Tribunal, the Returning Officer shall revise the list of validly nominated candidates accordingly.
The Returning Officer shall, on the second day following the last date for decision of appeals by the Appellate Tribunal, prepare and display in the prescribed manner the revised list of validly nominated candidates.
Note: Pl refer to S.64 of the Act and Rule 55.
A validly nominated candidate may, by notice in writing signed by her/her/him and delivered to the Returning Officer on or before the withdrawal date either by the candidate her/her/himself or by an advocate authorized in writing by the candidate, withdraw her/her/his candidature.
A notice of withdrawal shall, in no circumstances, be open to recall or cancellation.
On receiving a notice of withdrawal, the Returning Officer shall, if s/he is satisfied that the signature on the notice is that of the candidate, cause a copy of the notice to be affixed at a conspicuous place in her/her/his office.
Note: Pl refer to S. 65 of the Act.
Candidate to file certificate of party affiliation
A contesting candidate, before seeking allotment of a prescribed symbol, shall file a declaration before the Returning Officer about her/his affiliation with a particular political party, if any, along with a certificate from the political party showing that he is that party‘s candidate from the constituency.
Note: Pl refer to S. 66 of the Act.
Contested election and allotment of symbols
If after withdrawal, if any, there are more than one contesting candidate in the constituency, the Returning Officer shall allot, subject to any direction of the Commission, one of the prescribed symbols to each contesting candidate.
A candidate nominated by a political party at an election in any constituency shall be allotted the symbol allocated by the Commission to that political party and no other symbol.
An Independent candidate shall choose and shall be allotted one of the symbols not allocated to any political party, in the following manner—Where a symbol has been chosen by only one independent candidate, that symbol shall be allotted to that candidate and to no one else;
If a symbol is chosen by more than one independent candidate and one of them has previously been a Member of the Parliament or a Provincial Assembly, such symbol shall be allotted to that former Member;
If more than one independent candidate has chosen the same symbol, the Returning Officer shall allot the symbol to such candidate according to her/her/his preference, indicated at the time of scrutiny of nomination papers; and if more than one independent candidates have given preference for the same symbol, that symbol shall be allotted by drawing of lots.
Note: Pl refer to S.67 of the Act.
List of contesting candidates
The Returning Officer, after allotment of symbols to contesting candidates, shall publish the names of the contesting candidates arranged in Urdu alphabetical order specifying against each the symbol allotted to her/her/him; and give public notice of the day and hours of the poll.
The Returning Officer shall supply a copy of list of contesting candidates to each candidate and shall exhibit the list at a prominent place in each polling station on the day of poll.
Note: Pl refer to S. 68 of the Act and Rule 56.
Retirement from election
A contesting candidate may retire from the election by notice in writing signed by her/her/him and attested by a Notary Public or an Oath Commissioner or a Government servant in basic pay scale 17 and above and delivered to the Returning Officer on any day not later than four days before the polling day by the candidate her/her/himself or by an advocate authorized in writing by the candidate.
If a contesting candidate retires from the election, he shall not be allowed to subsequently cancel the retirement.
The Returning Officer shall, upon receiving a notice of retirement, cause a copy thereof to be affixed or published at some conspicuous place in her/his office.
Note: Pl refer to S. 72 of the Act.
Death of a candidate after nomination
If a contesting candidate dies before commencement of the poll or during the polling hours, the Returning Officer shall, by public notice, terminate the proceedings relating to that election.
Where the proceedings relating to an election have been terminated under, fresh proceedings shall be commenced in accordance with the law, as if for a new election but it shall not be necessary for the other contesting candidates to file fresh nomination papers or make a further deposit.
Note: Pl refer to S. 73 of the Act.
Postponement under certain circumstances
Where the proceedings relating to nomination, scrutiny or withdrawal cannot, for reasons beyond the control of the Returning Officer, to be recorded in writing, take place on the day appointed for the proceedings, s/he may postpone such proceedings and in ther/his case he shall inform the Commission of her/her/his having done so and the Commission shall, by notification in the official Gazette, fix another day for the proceedings so postponed and, if necessary, the day or days for any subsequent proceedings.
Note: Pl refer to S. 74 of the Act.
Where, after scrutiny of nomination papers, there remains only one validly nominated candidate or where, after withdrawal or retirement, there remains only one contesting candidate, the Returning Officer shall, by public notice, declare such candidate to be elected to the seat:
Provided that if after scrutiny any candidate indicates that s/he intends to file an appeal against the rejection of her/her/his nomination paper, no person shall be declared elected until the period appointed for filing such appeal has expired and no such appeal has been filed or, where an appeal is filed, until the disposal of the appeal.
Note: Pl refer to S. 75 of the Act and Rule 57.
The following persons may cast their votes by postal ballot—
- a person in the service of Pakistan, her/his/her spouse and children;
- a person appointed by the Returning Officer, including police personnel, for the performance of any duty in connection with an election at polling station other than the one at which he is entitled to cast her/his vote;
- a person with any physical disability who is unable to travel and holds a National Identity Card with a logo for physical disability issued by the National Database and Registration Authority; and, a person detained in a prison or held in custody.
A voter, who is entitled to vote through Postal Ballot and intends to do so, shall apply for the issuance of Postal Ballot to the Returning Officer of the Constituency, in which he/she is registered as voter, within time specified by the ECP in this behalf. However, the Person appointed on any duty in connection with election at polling station can apply for the same within 3 days of his/her appointment. Every such application shall specify the name of the voter, his/her address and his/her serial number in the electoral roll.
The Returning Officer shall upon receipt of an application by a voter send by post to such voter a ballot paper and an envelope bearing on its face form of certificate of posting, showing the date thereof, to be filled in by the proper official of the Post Office at the time of posting by the voter.
A voter on receiving her/his ballot paper for voting by postal ballot shall record her/her/his vote in the prescribed manner and, after so recording, post the ballot paper to the Returning Officer in the envelope sent to her/her/him, so as to reach the Returning Officer before the consolidation of results by her/her/him.
Pl refer to S. 93 of the Act and Rules 70 and 71.
Candidates will have at least 28 days for their election campaign after publication of Revised List of Validly Nominated Candidates but no person shall convene, hold or attend any public meeting, or promote or join in any procession, within the area of a constituency during a period of forty-eight hours ending at midnight following the conclusion of the poll for any election in that constituency.
Note: Pl refer to Ss. 57 & 182 of the Act.
Code of Conduct
The Commission shall frame a Code of Conduct for political parties, contesting candidates, election agents, polling agents, security personnel, media and election observers in consultation with concerned stake holders, and publish these Code of Conduct in the official Gazette and on its website. A political party, a candidate, an election agent, a polling agent, security personnel, media and an observer shall follow the Code of Conduct during an election.
Note: Pl refer to S. 233 of the Act.
Regulation of publicity
No political party shall run a publicity campaign in print and electronic media at the cost of public exchequer.
The Commission shall determine the size of posters, handbills and pamphlets, which the candidates or political parties may use for canvassing for an election. No person or a political party shall-
- affix or distribute posters, handbills, pamphlets, banners or portraits larger than the sizes prescribed by the Commission;
- print or publish, or cause to be printed or published, any poster, handbill or pamphlet which does not bear on its face the names and addresses of the printer and the publisher;
- affix hoardings or panaflexes of any size;
- hoist party flag at any public building or any other public property;
- do wall chalking for the purpose of canvassing for an election;
- use loudspeaker for canvassing except at election meeting
No person shall remove or deface the posters affixed by a candidate or political party or prevent workers of a candidate or political party from distribution of handbills and leaflets.
The regulatory authority dealing with print or electronic media shall comply with the direction of the Commission to submit a report in respect of the publicity campaign by a political party or a candidate.
Note: Pl refer to S. 180 of the Act.
Prohibition of announcement of development schemes
No Government functionary or elected representative including a local government functionary or elected representative, shall announce any development scheme for a constituency after the announcement of the Election Programme of that constituency.
Note: Pl refer to S. 181 of the Act.
Monitoring of election campaign
The Commission shall constitute a monitoring team for a constituency or a group of constituencies consisting of such number of persons as may be determined by it, to monitor election campaign of the candidates and political parties and report, on regular basis in the prescribed manner, to an officer nominated by the Commission in respect of each district (District Monitoring Officer) for the purpose of deciding the complaints regarding any violation by a candidate or a political party of any provision of the Act, Rules or the Code of Conduct issued by the Commission. If the District Monitoring Officer receives a report of any violation of the Act or the Rules and, after holding a summary enquiry, finds that the reported violation has been committed and no other punishment is provided under the Act for such violation, he may impose a fine not exceeding fifty thousand rupees.
If the District Monitoring Officer after summary enquiry finds a candidate or a political party guilty of violation of the Act or the Rules for the second time, s/he shall refer the matter to the Commission for initiation of proceedings against such candidate or political party under the law, including proceedings for disqualification of the said candidate and in case of the political party, its candidate. Any person aggrieved from an order of District Monitoring Officer under ther/his section may, within three days from the order, file an appeal before the Commission and the order of the Commission on the appeal shall be final.
In an election, the Commission may issue any direction to the authority dealing with matters relating to print or electronic media and such authority shall comply with the direction.
Note: Pl refer to S. 234 of the Act and Rule 171.
A candidate may appoint a voter in the constituency as her/her/his election agent by send to the Returning Officer a notice in writing of the appointment containing the name, father’s name and address of the election agent.
The appointment of an election agent may, at any time be revoked in writing by the candidate and, when it is so revoked or if the election agent dies, the candidate may appoint another person as her/her/his election agent.
Where a candidate has not appointed an election agent, the candidate shall be deemed to be her/her/his own election agent.
Pl refer to Section 76 of the Elections Act, 2017.
The contesting candidate or her/her/his election agent may, before the commencement of or during the poll, appoint for each polling station as many polling agents as per number of polling booths in that polling station and shall give notice in writing to the Presiding Officer communicating the appointment.
The appointment of a polling agent may at any time be revoked by the candidate or her/his election agent and, when it is so revoked or if the polling agent dies, another person may be appointed by the candidate or her/her/his election agent as a polling agent and a notice of such appointment shall be given to the Presiding Officer.
Pl refer to Section 77 of the Elections Act, 2017 and Rule 58 of the Elections Rule, 2017.
- Where a voter presents her/her/himself at the polling station to vote, the Assistant Presiding Officer shall issue a ballot paper to the voter after satisfying her/himself about her/his identity and shall, for that purpose, require her/her/him to produce her/her/his original National Identity Card issued by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
- Before a ballot paper is issued to a voter the Polling Officer shall call out the number and name of the voter as entered in the electoral roll; struck off the entry relating to the voter on the electoral roll to indicate that a ballot paper has been issued to her/her/him; voter shall be required to receive a personal mark, made with indelible ink, on any finger or thumb of either hand; and shall obtain the thumb impression of the voter on the space provided on the electoral roll for the purpose against the photograph of the voter.
- The Assistant Presiding Officer shall stamp the ballot paper on its back with the official mark and sign it. S/He shall record on the counterfoil of the ballot paper the number of the voter on the electoral roll, the number of the National Identity Card of the voter, stamp it with the official mark, sign it and obtain on it the thumb impression of the voter; and
- A ballot paper shall not be issued to a person who fails or refuses to produce her/her/his original National Identity Card issued by NADRA; refuses to put her/her/his thumb impression on the counterfoil or, as the case may be, on the space provided for the purpose on the electoral roll against her/her/his photograph or whose thumb bears traces of its having already been used for putting an impression; or refuses to receive the personal mark with indelible ink; or who already bears such a mark or traces of such a mark.
- On receiving the ballot paper, the voter shall forthwith proceed to the place reserved for marking the ballot paper; put the prescribed mark on the ballot paper at any place within the space containing the name and symbol of the contesting candidate for whom he wishes to vote; and after s/he has so marked the ballot paper, fold and insert it in the ballot box.
- The voter shall vote without undue delay and shall leave the polling station immediately after s/he has inserted her/his ballot paper in the ballot box.
Pl refer to S. 84 of the Act and Rules 73 & 75.
Provision of Assistance to Blind/Incapacitated Voters
The law allows a voter who is blind or is otherwise so incapacitated that s/he cannot vote without the assistance of her/her/his companion to receive assistance of her/her/his companion while casting her/her/his vote. The companion neither should be less than eighteen years of age nor be a candidate or her/his agent. In such cases, the Presiding Officer must instruct the companion to mark the ballot paper as per wishes of the voter. Under no circumstances the companion will disclose voter’s choice. The Presiding Officer is also instructed to keep a handwritten list of voters who need assistance along with the names of their companions for record keeping purpose.
Pl refer to S. 84 of the Act and Rule 74.
Tendered Ballot Papers
(1) If a person representing her/himself to be a voter applies for a ballot paper when another person has already represented to be that voter and has voted under the name of the person so applying—
(a) if the applicant meets the requirements of identity verification laid down in the Act, he shall be entitled to receive a Tendered Ballot Paper in the same manner as any other voter;
(b) if the applicant fails to prove her/his claimed identity, the Presiding Officer may proceed against her/him for personation punishable under the Act.
(2) The Presiding Officer shall, after the voter has marked and folded the Tendered Ballot Paper, place it in the same condition in a separate packet bearing the label “Tendered Ballot Papers” instead of being placed in the ballot box and shall include it in the count by her/him in the manner provided in the Act.
(3) The Presiding Officer shall enter in a list (Tendered Votes List) the name of the voter who has received a tendered ballot paper and her/his number on the electoral roll.
(4) The Presiding Officer shall send the Tendered Votes List along with copies of the National Identity Cards and other documents if any produced by the voters to the Returning Officer, and the Returning Officer shall send the same along with the electoral roll and counterfoils bearing the thumb impressions to the Commission.
(5) The Commission shall send the Tendered Votes List and other documents mentioned above to the NADRA for forensic enquiry to identify both the voters who voted against one entry in the electoral roll and the NADRA shall submit a report confirming the personation or otherwise to the Commission, which shall initiate legal action against the person who impersonated or attempted to impersonate and the election officials responsible for committing negligence in issuing a ballot paper to the impostor.
Pl refer to Ss. 85 & 90 of the Act and Rule 77.
Challenge of voters.
(1) If, at the time, a person applies for ballot paper for the purpose of voting, a candidate or her/his polling agent declares to the Presiding Officer that he has reasonable cause to believe that person has already voted in the election at the same or another polling station, or is not the person whose name is entered in the electoral roll and undertakes to prove the charge in a court and deposits with the Presiding Officer in cash a sum of one hundred rupees, the Presiding Officer may, after warning the person of the consequences and obtaining on the counterfoil, her/his thumb impression and if he is literate, also her/his signature, issue a ballot paper (Challenged Ballot Paper) to the person.
(2) If the Presiding Officer issues a Challenged Ballot Paper to any person, he shall enter the name and address of that person in a list to be prepared by her/him (Challenged Votes List) and obtain on it the thumb impression and, if s/he is literate, also the signature of that person.
(3) The Presiding Officer shall, after the Challenged Ballot Paper has been marked and folded by the voter, place it in the same condition in a separate packet bearing the label “Challenged Ballot Papers”, instead of being placed in the ballot box and shall include it in the count by her/him in the manner provided in the Act.
Pl refer to S. 86 of the Act and Rule 78.
Spoilt Ballot Papers
(1) A voter who has inadvertently so spoilt her/his ballot paper that it cannot be used as a valid ballot paper may, upon proving the fact of inadvertence to the satisfaction of the Presiding Officer and returning the ballot paper to her/him, obtain another ballot paper and cast her/his vote by such other ballot paper.
(2) The Presiding Officer shall cancel the ballot paper returned to her/him under sub-section (1), make a note to that effect on the counterfoil under her/his own signatures and sign the cancelled ballot paper and place it in a separate packet bearing the label “Spoilt Ballot Papers”.
Pl refer to S. 87 of the Act and Rule 79.
Voting after close of poll
The Presiding Officer shall not issue any ballot paper or permit any person to vote after the hour fixed for the close of the poll except the persons who at that hour are present within the building, room, tent or enclosure in which the polling station is situated and have not voted but are waiting to vote.
Pl refer to S. 89 of the Act.
Proceedings at the close of poll.
(1) The Presiding Officer shall count the votes immediately after the close of the poll in the presence of such of the contesting candidates, election agents, polling agents and authorized observers as may be present.
(2) The Presiding Officer shall give such of the contesting candidates, election agents, polling agents and authorized observers as may be present reasonable facility of observing the count and give them such information with respect to the count as can be given consistent with the orderly conduct of the count and the discharge of her/his duties in connection with the count.
(3) The Presiding Officer shall not allow any person to be present at the count other than election officials on duty in connection with the poll, the contesting candidates, their election agents and polling agents or any other person authorized by the Commission.
(4) The Presiding Officer shall—
(a) Open the used ballot box or ballot boxes and count the entire lot of ballot papers taken out therefrom;
(b) Open the packets bearing the labels “Tendered Ballot Papers” and “Challenge Ballot Papers”; and
(c) Count the votes cast in favour of each contesting candidate excluding from the count the Spoilt Ballot Papers and the ballot papers which bear—
(i) No official mark and signature of the Presiding Officer;
(ii) Any writing or any mark other than the official mark, the signature of the Presiding Officer and the prescribed mark or to which a piece of paper or any other object of any kind has been attached;
(iii) No prescribed mark to indicate the contesting candidate for whom the voter has voted; or
(iv) Any mark from which it is not clear for whom the voter has voted.
(5) A ballot paper shall be deemed to have been marked in favour of a candidate if the whole or more than half of the area of the prescribed mark appears clearly within the space containing the name and symbol of that candidate and, where the prescribed mark is divided equally between two such spaces, the ballot paper shall be deemed invalid.
(6) The Presiding Officer may recount the votes if he considers it necessary—
(a) Of her/his own motion; or
(b) Upon the request of a contesting candidate, an election agent or a polling agent present:
Provided that the recount shall be made by the Presiding Officer only once.
(7) The Presiding Officer shall, immediately after the count, prepare a Result of the Count on Form-47 showing therein the number of valid votes polled by each contesting candidate and the ballot papers excluded from the count.
(8) The Presiding Officer shall prepare Form-47 a Ballot Paper Account showing separately—
(a) the number of ballot papers entrusted to her/him;
(b) the number of un-issued ballot papers;
(c) the number of ballot papers taken out of the ballot box or boxes and counted;
(d) the number of Tendered Ballot Papers;
(e) the number of Challenged Ballot Papers; and
(f) the number of Spoilt Ballot Papers.
(9) The Presiding Officer, after preparation of the Result of the Count and the Ballot Paper Account, shall sign them and obtain thereon the signatures of the senior-most Assistant Presiding Officer and an accredited observer, a candidate or her/his election agent or polling agents as may be present in token of the said documents having been prepared in their presence and if any such person refuses to sign it, the Presiding Officer shall record a note on the result of the count and the ballot paper account to that effect.
(10) The Presiding Officer shall give a copy each of the Result of the Count and the Ballot Paper Account signed, stamped and thumb marked by her/him and the senior most Assistant Presiding Officer to such of the candidates, their election agents or polling agents as may be present and obtain a receipt for such copy and if any such person refuses to sign it, the Presiding Officer shall record a note to that effect.
(11) The Presiding Officer shall publish the Result of the Count and Ballot Paper Account, signed by her/him and others, by affixing copies at a conspicuous place at the polling station for public inspection.
(12) The Presiding Officer shall obtain on each statement and packet prepared by her/him the signature of such of the contesting candidates or their election agents or polling agents as may be present and, if any such person refuses to sign, the Presiding Officer shall record that fact on each such statement or packet.
(13) A person required to sign a statement or packet prepared by Presiding Officer may, if he so desires, also affix her/his seal to it.
(14) After the close of the proceedings under this section, the Presiding Officer shall, in compliance with such instructions as may be given by the Commission on her/his behalf, cause the packets, the Result of the Count and the Ballot Paper Account prepared by her/him to be sent to the Returning Officer and to such other officer as may be authorized by the Commission, together with such other records as the Commission may direct.
(15) The Presiding Officer at combined polling stations, will prepare gender disaggregated statement in respect of male and female voters by counting entries scored out from the electoral roll of the relevant booths.
Pl refer to the S. 90 of the Act and Rules 80, 81, 82 & 83.
Provisional Consolidation and results
On receipt of the Results of the Count from all Presiding Officers of a constituency, the Returning Officer shall forthwith prepare and announce provisional Consolidated Statement of Results of the Count of the constituency (excluding postal ballots) in Form-47, in the presence of such contesting candidates, their election agents or authorized observers as may be present, affix a copy of the provisional Consolidated Statement of Results signed by her/him at a conspicuous place in her/his office and send a copy thereof to the Commission.
Pl refer to the S. 92 of the Act and Rule 84.
Consolidation of Results
(1) Immediately after announcement of provisional results, the Returning Officer shall give the contesting candidates and their election agents a notice in writing of the day, time and place fixed for the consolidation of the results, and, in the presence of such of the contesting candidates and election agents as may be present, consolidate in the prescribed manner the Results of the Count furnished by the Presiding Officers, including therein the postal ballots received by her/him before the time fixed for the consolidation of results.
(2) Before consolidating the Results of the Count, the Returning Officer shall examine the ballot papers excluded from the count by the Presiding Officer and, if he finds that any such ballot paper should not have been so excluded, count it as a ballot paper cast in favour of the contesting candidate for whom the vote has been cast.
(3) The Returning Officer shall also count the ballot papers received by her/him by post and include the votes cast in favour of each contesting candidate in the Consolidated Statement except those which he may reject on any of the following grounds:
(i) no official mark and signature of the Presiding Officer;
(ii) any writing or any mark other than the official mark, the signature of the Presiding Officer and the prescribed mark or to which a piece of paper or any other object of any kind has been attached;
(iii) no prescribed mark to indicate the contesting candidate for whom the voter has voted; or
(iv) any mark from which it is not clear for whom the voter has voted.
(4) The ballot papers rejected by the Returning Officer shall be mentioned separately in the consolidated statement.
(5) Before commencement of the consolidation proceedings, the Returning Officer shall recount the ballot papers of one or more polling stations if a request or challenge in writing is made by a contesting candidate or her/his election agent and the margin of victory is less than five percent of the total votes polled in the constituency or ten thousand votes, whichever is less, or the Returning Officer considers such request as not unreasonable:
Provided that the recount shall be made by the Returning Officer only once.
(6) The Commission may, before conclusion of the consolidation proceedings, for reasons to be recorded, direct the Returning Officer to recount the ballot papers of one or more polling stations.
(7) If there is a difference between the Results of the Count received from the Presiding Officers and the results of the recount, the Returning Officer shall record the difference and details thereof:
Provided that where the Returning Officer has recounted the votes the consolidation proceedings shall be completed within five days after the polling day.
(8) RO will prepare consolidation statement on From-48, from the Result of the Count (Form-45) furnished by the Presiding Officers including postal ballot papers whereas Final consolidated result will be prepared on Form-49.
(9) The Returning Officer shall, within twenty four hours after the consolidation proceedings, send to the Commission signed copies of the Consolidated Statement of the Results of the Count (Form-48) and Final Consolidated Result (Form-49) together with Results of the Count (Form-45) and the Ballot Paper Account (Form-46), as received from the Presiding Officers, and shall retain copies of these documents for record.
(10) After consolidation of results, the Returning Officer shall give to such contesting candidates and their election agents as are present during the consolidation proceedings a copy of the Consolidated Statement of the Results of the Count (Form-48) and the Final Consolidated Result (Form-49) sent to the Commission against proper receipt.
(11) On receipt of Forms-45, 46, 48 & 49, the Commission shall, within fourteen days from the date of the poll, publish the documents on its website.
Pl refer to S. 95 of the Act and Rule 88.
Equality of votes
(1) Where, after consolidation of the Results of the Count, there is equality of votes between two contesting candidates, the Returning Officer shall declare both the candidates as returned and each one of them shall be entitled to represent her/his constituency in the respective Assembly for half of its term of office.
(2) The Returning Officer shall draw a lot in respect of the above mentioned two returned candidates in presence of such of the contesting candidates and their election agents as may be present to determine as to who shall serve as Member of the Assembly for the first half of its term of office and the name of the candidate, whose name is drawn in the lot, shall be notified as such in the official Gazette by the Commission.
(4) The Returning Officer shall keep record of the proceedings and obtain on the proceedings signature of such of the candidates and election agents as have been witness to the proceedings, and if any such person refuses to sign, such fact shall be recorded.
(5) If, in case of death or any other cause one of the returned candidates fails to assume office as a Member or her/his seat becomes vacant, the other surviving returned candidate shall serve as a member for whole or remainder of the term of the Assembly.
(6) Where, on consolidation of results, there is equality of votes among more than two contesting candidates, the Commission shall issue fresh Election Programme for the constituency and determine the date of polling day which shall not be later than sixty days from the date of consolidation of results of the constituency.
Pl refer to S. 97 of the Act.
Declaration of results
(1) On receipt of the Final Consolidated Result from the Returning Officer, the Commission shall, within fourteen days from the date of the poll, publish in the official Gazette the name of the contesting candidate who has received the highest number of votes and stands elected.
(2) The Commission shall also publish in the official Gazette the name of each contesting candidate and the total number of votes received by her/him as in the Final Consolidated Result.
(3) Every returned candidate shall, within ten days from the poll of an election, submit a return of election expenses and the Commission shall not notify in the official Gazette the result of a returned candidate who fails to submit her/his return of election expenses.
(4) The Commission shall place the documents mentioned above on its website within two days from the date of the publication of the name of the returned candidate in the official Gazette.
Pl refer to S. 98 of the Act.
Documents retained by the Commission and Public Inspection
The Returning Officer shall furnish and the Commission retain for a period of one year from the date of their deposit the ballot papers, counterfoils of issued ballot papers, marked copies of the electoral rolls used in the poll, Ballot Paper Accounts, Tendered Ballot Papers, Tendered Voters List, Challenged Ballot Papers, Challenged Voter List and Spoilt Ballot Papers. These documents except ballot papers shall be open to public inspection on payment of a fee at the rate of ten rupees per page of a document. Copies of these documents shall be furnished upon an application made by any person on payment of fee at the rate of ten rupees per page which will be paid through court fee stamps.
Similarly the nomination form, accompanying declaration and statements can be inspected and copies thereof can be obtained on payment of fee at the rate of ten rupees per page which will be paid through court fee stamps.
Pl refer to Ss. 99 & 100 of the Act and Rules 89 & 91.
Restriction on election expenses
(1) The election expenses of a candidate shall include the expenses incurred by any person or a political party on behalf of the candidate or incurred by a political party specifically for the candidate.
(2) Where any person incurs any election expenses on behalf of a candidate with her/his permission, whether for stationery, postage, advertisement, transport or for any other item, such expenses shall be deemed to be the election expenses incurred by the candidate her/himself.
(3) The election expenses of a contesting candidate shall not exceed—
(a) one million and five hundred thousand rupees for election to a seat in the Senate;
(b) four million rupees for election to a seat in the National Assembly; and
(c) two million rupees for election to a seat in a Provincial Assembly.
(4) A candidate shall, through bills, receipts and other documents, vouch for every payment made in respect of election expenses, except where the amount is less than one thousand rupees.
(5) For purposes of her/his election expenses, a candidate shall open an exclusive account with any branch of a scheduled bank before the date fixed for scrutiny of nomination papers and maintain, or cause to be maintained, a register of receipts and expenditures.
(6) A candidate shall not make any transaction towards the election expenses through an account other than the account opened for the purpose.
(7) A candidate may open the bank account for election expenses with an amount not exceeding the limit of election expenses provided above.
Pl refer to Ss. 132 & 133 of the Act and Rule 134.
Return of election expenses and Inspection of returns
(1) A contesting candidate, other than the returned candidate, shall submit the return of her/his election expenses on Form C within thirty days of the publication of the name of the returned candidate.
(2) The return of election expenses of the returned candidate and a contesting candidate shall be submitted to the Returning Officer on Form C.
(3) Immediately on receipt, the returns and documents submitted, shall be sent by the Returning Officer to the Commission and shall, for a period of one year from the date of receipt by it, be open to inspection by any person on payment of fee at the rate of ten rupees per page.
(4) The Commission shall, on an application made in ther/his behalf and on payment of the fee at the rate of ten rupees per page, give any person copies of any return or document.
Pl refer to Ss. 134 & 135 of the Act and Rule 135.
(1) No election shall be called in question except by an election petition filed by a candidate for that election.
(2) For the trial of election petitions, the Commission shall appoint as many Election Tribunals as may be necessary for swift disposal of election petitions which will be comprised of a person who is or has been a Judge of a High Court (in the case of an election to an Assembly or the Senate); and a District and Sessions Judge or an Additional District and Sessions Judge (in case of an election to a local government).
(3) The Commission shall appoint a sitting judge as Election Tribunal in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned.
(4) An election petition shall be presented to the Election Tribunal within forty-five days of the publication in the official Gazette of the name of the returned candidate and shall be accompanied by a receipt showing that the petitioner has deposited at any branch of the National Bank of Pakistan or at a Government Treasury or Sub-Treasury in favour of the Commission, under the prescribed head of account, as security for the costs of the petition, a sum of twenty thousand rupees.
(5) An election petition shall be deemed to have been presented when delivered to the Election Tribunal by the petitioner in person; or by a person authorized in writing in ther/his behalf by the petitioner; or when sent by registered post or courier service to the Election Tribunal by the petitioner. An election petition, if sent by registered post or courier service, shall be deemed to have been presented in time if it is posted or sent within the abovementioned period.
(6) The petitioner shall join as respondents to her/his election petition all other contesting candidates.
(7) The petitioner shall serve a copy of the election petition with all annexures on each respondent, personally or by registered post or courier service, before or at the time of filing the election petition.
(8) The Election Tribunal may, upon the conclusion of the trial of an election petition,
(a) dismiss the petition;
(b) declare the election of the returned candidate to be void and direct that fresh poll be held in one or more polling stations;
(c) declare the election of the returned candidate to be void and the petitioner or any other contesting candidate to have been elected; or declare the election as a whole to be void and directing that fresh election be held in the entire constituency.
(8) Any person aggrieved by the final decision of the Election Tribunal in respect of an election petition challenging election to an Assembly or Senate may, within thirty days of the date of the decision, appeal to the Supreme Court whereas Any person aggrieved by the final decision of the Election Tribunal in respect of an election petition challenging election to a local government, may, within thirty days of the date of the decision, appeal to the High Court having jurisdiction and the decision of the High Court on such appeal shall be final.
(9) Copies of documents forming part of an election petition presented to the Election Tribunal and of any order passed by it may be furnished to any person by the Tribunal on an application in writing on payment of fee @ ten rupees per page paid inn shape of court fee stamps.
Pl refer to Ss. 139 to 156 of the Act and Rules 139 to 150
(Courtesy: Election Commission of Pakistan and UNESCO)