14,000 more polling stations to be set up for next general election: Aftab

ISLAMABAD: Keeping in view the increased number of voters and facilitate them, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs sheikh Aftab Ahmed Thursday apprised the National Assembly that 14,000 more polling stations would be set up for next general election, scheduled to be held in 2018.

“The government is in the process of increasing the number of polling stations from 69,801 to 83,244 for the next election, keeping in view the number of voters that has surged to around 95 million, which was around 86 million,” he said during the question-hour.

As per clause 59 of draft Election Bill 2017, he said within one week after appointment of Returning Officers, the Commission shall provide, in the prescribed format, a list of proposed polling stations for each constituency to the Returning Officer of that constituency.

While, 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 1200 voters shall be assigned to a polling station and not more than 300 shall be assigned to a polling booth, and reasons for any deviation shall be recorded in writing” he Minister said.

He said Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had initiated exercise of searching new official buildings in all constituencies in order to increase number of polling stations for further facilitation of voters.

It would be pertinent to mention here that during the course of last Local Government Elections held in all four Provinces, as many as 5,261 additional polling stations were established by the ECP comparing the number of polling stations established in General Elections 2013.

In this respect, he said, a brainstorming session had been conducted on August 8, 2017 to finalize the mechanism to increase number of polling stations parallel to retention of polling stations established in the previous election.

“After deliberations, it was decided that the Provincial Election Commissioners would work out expected increased number of polling stations in the constituencies under their jurisdiction and newly located official buildings would be made part of draft list of polling stations of each constituency,” Sheikh Aftab said.