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Arriving at your polling station on election day only to discover that someone else has already cast your vote might swiftly dampen your enthusiasm for the electoral process. In a country where electoral misconduct takes various guises, including identity theft, voters face the risk of being disenfranchised in numerous ways.
Fortunately, the Election Commission of Pakistan has taken proactive measures to address this concern and ensure no eligible voter is excluded from the democratic process. Section 77 of the 2017 Election Rules specifically addresses the issue of “Tendered votes,” referring to votes already cast.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of arriving at a polling station to discover that your ballot has already been submitted, stamped, and placed in the ballot box without your knowledge, you will be required to prove your identity. Presenting a valid National Identity Card (CNIC) to the polling officer and verifying your identity will result in the issuance of a tendered ballot paper.
Upon receiving the tendered ballot paper, the Presiding Officer will record your thumb impression and signature on Form-43, dedicated to tendered votes. While you will have the opportunity to mark your ballot paper in privacy, you will not be permitted to deposit it directly into the ballot box. Instead, the officer will place your vote in a special envelope designated for tendered votes.
As for the original “fake” vote cast in your name, if you successfully establish your identity to the Presiding Officer, the illegitimacy of the previously cast vote will be established. However, it is essential to note that a ballot paper does not bear any identifying marks. Therefore, if the fake vote has been cast validly, it will be counted, provided the ballot stamp is correctly placed in one of the boxes.
Subsequently, the Presiding Officer will submit the counterfoil issued to the impersonator, along with their thumb impression, to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The ECP will collaborate with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to identify the individual who cast the impersonated vote. Additionally, action will be taken against any individuals whose negligence facilitated the casting of the fraudulent vote.
It is crucial to emphasize that failure to substantiate your claim of a fraudulent vote with proper identification may result in penalties.
During the counting process, both the fake and impersonated votes will contribute to the total count for each candidate. However, tendered votes will be tallied separately and returned to their designated bag after the count. Form-45 will include a distinct column for tendered votes, reflecting their impact on the final count of each constituency.