With all the enthusiasm and excitement, knowing that the requirements for a voter are incomplete (lost original CNIC) I decided I will go, try and vote! It is worth a try. I did. I stood in the line for couple of hours. I voted. It was indeed worth the try! A few observations I would like to share as my experience of a first time voter for Pakistan Elections 2013 in Karachi. After collecting all the information (where to vote: constituency, polling station address etc.) I walked down the polling station which is five minute walk away from my home.
Outside the Polling Station
There was a huge line (200+ men) outside the building (a school+college) where my polling station was. Rangers and police were outside polling station that helps build some sense of security and control. Few political party camps were outside helping and guiding the voters.
Inside the Polling Station
Halfway through the line – that started outside the polling station building – as we reached inside the building, I figured there are 9 polling booths in this very polling station. The voters were divided as per their Block Code (also referred to as Book Number). A lot of volunteers were helping and guiding people to reach their respective polling booth. I made my way to the relevant polling booth as per my Block Code/Book Number to find relatively smaller queue. One of the polling booth was closed as the staff did not turn up.
In the Polling Booth
Polling Booth Setup
- One official each on National & Provincial Assembly ballot book, a voter list (with visual identification and details)
- One official with voter list to verify Silsila/Serial Number of a voter
- One ECP official who overlooks the handling proceedings.
As close as being 2nd last to be handed a ballot paper, an ECP official came in and decided to distribute half the voters in this booth to the other non-functional one as missing the staff showed up there. As per the voter list number (the Silsila Number/Serial Number) my name was in the newly operational booth. As I stood there in the queue waiting for my turn, I noticed the following which was more amusing than shocking or unexpected:
- The 2 officials with National & Provincial ballot books were not trained at all (one of them mentioned it’s his first time doing this job)
- The ECP official who was overlooking the proceedings was giving them hands on training there and then.
The Voting Process
- A voter in front of me was almost handed the wrong ballot paper
- The official wrote Block Code instead of CNIC number in the designated section marked for CNIC on ballot paper
- A voter was almost handed an empty ballot paper
- Many people had their cellphones on them – no restriction whatsoever.
Finally it was my turn! I presented my CNIC copy, FIR copy of the lost CNIC and my Original Passport to the ECP official who allowed me to vote. Had I not been vigilant; the fear of getting my vote wasted, the officials who were preparing the ballot papers would have really messed it up. I made sure I got the following right and made both the officials not to miss a single thing. (I was able to do all that with my observation and the proceedings for voters in front of me.):
- They almost missed writing my Block/Book Code on the ballot counter slip.
- Forgot to stamp and sign the back of both NA & PS ballot papers
- Forgot to get my thumb impression on the voter list with visual ID
- Forgot to ink my thumb with the non-erasable ink after I cast my vote
Finally I walked towards the privacy are to stamp the ballot papers. Stamped, cast my vote and voila, that was it! There was no influence, fear or pressure of who I’m voting for. I had all the privacy I needed to stamp my choice. What was your experience? Do share it. Felt proud being part of something as big as this. I encourage all to go and vote until the voting time is available. DO. VOTE!
Since voting/polling booths situation is a time sensitive issue; the following post is an experience as I reached the polling station at 9am and left around 11am.
Note: Article reproduced and published on PakVotes as well: