ISLAMABAD, May 01, 2021: The NA-249 Karachi West-II by-election on April 29 saw a substantial decline in voter turnout, mainly due to the hot weather and Ramzan. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ensured strict compliance to the COVID-19 standard operating procedures. Despite a competitive campaign, the poll recorded a turnout of 21.6 percent of registered voters—dropping from 40 percent reported for the constituency during General Elections 2018.
Observers representing the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) asked voters how satisﬁed they were with the voting process. Voters outside 98 polling stations—18 men’s, 17 women’s, and 53 combined—expressed their satisfaction. In contrast, voters outside the remaining polling stations said they were partially satisﬁed.
The observers found election material in enough quantities at all of the observed polling stations. Except for two incidents of unauthorized individuals going behind the secrecy screens at two polling stations, there were no other incidents that compromised voters’ secrecy. Except for two cases, the observers did not see party workers persuading voters inside the polling stations.
On election day, FAFEN’s trained citizen observers reported 143 violations, of which 55 related to the presence of party camps in the polling stations’ surroundings. In 11 instances, the polling staff did not allow voters to cast votes and sent them back. At 19 polling stations, the observers saw the COVID-19 SOPs not implemented at all. 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.
Twelve political parties ﬁelded their candidates in the NA-249 by-election while 18 candidates contested independently. The winning candidate secured 22 percent (16,156) of the polled votes (73,471). The party analysis shows signiﬁcant changes in the vote shares of different political parties.
Muhammad Faisal Vawda of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won from this constituency during the General Elections 2018. He had secured 27 percent (35,349) of the total polled votes (131,190). Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Mian Shehbaz Sharif ﬁnished runner-up with 26 percent (34,626) of the polled votes.
Abdul Qadir Mandokhel of Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) won the April 29 by-election by securing 22 percent of the total polled votes. The party had secured only six percent (7,236) of polled votes during General Elections 2018. The NA-249 seat had fallen vacant due to the resignation of PTI MNA Muhammad Faisal Vawda, who became a senator in the election on March 3, 2021.
FAFEN deployed 28 nonpartisan and duly accredited observers—19 male and nine females—to observe the polling process at 112 polling stations (30 male, 20 female, and 62 combined). They reported that the polling process was generally well organized at the observed polling stations. Nearly 84 percent (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 polling agents of contesting candidates were present at all the observed polling stations. All were seated perfectly and could easily observe the process.
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