Punjab LB polls through EVMs


LAHORE: The Punjab government has decided to hold the local bodies elections on electronic voting machines (EVMs), which have been recently allowed by Parliament through a legislation. The government has decided to make the necessary legislation to amend the Local Bodies Act to include the EVMs into a law.

According to sources, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has approved amendments to the Local Bodies Act, under which local bodies elections in Punjab will be held on EVMs. The chief minister was quoted as saying that Parliament had already made the law to legalise election law on EVMs and the provincial government would also make necessary legislation for holding elections on EVMs.

On the other hand, the Election Commission has demanded the new draft Local Government Amendment Act from the Punjab government for holding the coming LG polls under EVMs. The ECP has asked the Punjab government to submit the local bodies draft law by the first week of December to facilitate the commission for evolving new delimitations of the constituencies. The Election Commission has warned that if the Punjab government did not submit the new local bodies Act draft, then the elections will be held under the old laws and old constituencies.

Earlier, Punjab Election Commissioner Ghulam Israr Khan said that if the provincial government did not provide the necessary documents for holding the local bodies elections under new laws, then the elections will be held under the old laws within 120 days after December 31, the date when the existing local bodies’ term will expire.

He was talking to the media during his visit to the Regional Election Commissioner’s office, Sargodha, to review the ongoing door-to-door verification campaign and met the district election commissioners of Sargodha Division, including Sargodha, Khushab, Mianwali and Bhakkar districts. He told the media that he had held meetings with the chief secretary Punjab, the secretary Local Government and other concerned officials on the matter of holding LG polls in the province. He said the commission was bound to hold new elections within 120 days of the expiry of the existing LG elected representatives.

Regarding the issue of using EVMs, he said the committee has been formed in the Election Commission, which is doing necessary work on the matter. The staff assigned to review the electoral rolls will not be allowed to be subjected to any political pressure or influence at all. Rejecting all rumours, he said the Election Commission is monitoring the entire process on its own.

While conveying the message of Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan Sikandar Sultan to the officers, the Punjab election commissioner said all the staff should work diligently at every stage of verification and scrutiny of electoral rolls. The people should not be disturbed during the door-to-door verification campaign in which the vote registration and accuracy would be ensured.

Addressing a press conference later, the provincial election commissioner said that 80 per cent work of door-to-door verification campaign has been completed in the Sargodha Division. In this regard, he appreciated the services of the Education Department and thanked them for their full cooperation. He stated that according to the election rules, the voter can be registered to vote only at the permanent or temporary address listed on the identity card.

The provincial election commissioner, Punjab, while instructing the officers, said the district election commissioners should hold regular meetings with all the verification staff on weekly basis. In the meantime, all officers should visit their respective areas and monitor the verification campaign. During the verification campaign, the problems faced by the verification staff and the public should be covered and resolved in a timely manner. He said the teachers assigned to the duty of verification of rolls should be given leaves a little early so that they can perform this national duty. The duty of such teachers in the educational institutions should be arranged in such a way that students are not harmed. He directed the district election commissioners to continue effective media campaign for creating an awareness among the masses about the election process, holding awareness walks in educational institutions, universities, colleges, etc, besides holding seminars. The provincial election commissioner also met the assistant registration, certification officers and supervisors. He expressed satisfaction over the review of electoral rolls in Tehsil Bheera, Bhalwal, Chhantgaon and MC Sargodha.

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