Islamabad: Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) has submitted it's report on the by-elections held on April 29 in NA 249, Karachi.
In its report, FAFEN observed 143 violations, of which 55 were related to the presence of "party camps in polling stations surroundings" the report stated. It also said that COVID-19 SOPs were not followed at 19 polling stations while at 11 voters were turned back without being allowed to cast votes. The report did say that Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was successful at ensuring implementation of SOPs and guidelines.
"The other 58 instances of violations pertained to procedural irregularities, mainly in voting and counting processes. On average, the observers reported 1.3 violations per polling station," FAFEN declared in the report.
Discussing low voter turnout, the report said that high temperature and Ramdan were probable reasons. In 2018 general elections, 40% people had turned out to vote while in the current by-election, the turnout was an abysmal 21.6%.
NA 249 had come up for by-polls after Faisal Vawda, the PTI candidate who defeated Shehbaz Sharif in the constituency in 2018, became a senator in March.
Twelve parties contested in the by-poll, joined by 18 independent candidates. Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Abdul Qadir Mabdokhel won the election, defeating Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Miftah Ismail by a narrow margin. In 2018, Mabdokhel had not finished among the top five contenders.
FAFEN citizen observers reported the polling process was generally well organised at the observed polling stations. Nearly 84% (94) of the monitored polling stations had polling booths in separate rooms.
"However, around 18 polling stations — five each male and female and eight combined — housed more than one booth in a single room," the report said.