–Elections assessed under pre-poll activities, polling day, counting of votes and post-poll categories
ISLAMABAD: The overall score of quality of General Election 2018 stands at 51.79% which has dropped nearly 5 percentage points from the quality of General Election 2013 assessed to be at 56.76%, an assessment conducted by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) regarding the quality of polls found.
The institute has proposed an investigation into those aspects of the election about which a number of questions have been raised by various political parties and candidates.
According to the assessment, the quality of General Election 2018 has been assessed under four broad categories: 1) Pre-Poll; 2) Polling; 3) Counting of Votes, Compilation & Transmission of Results and 4) Post-Poll phase.
While Pre-Poll Phase received an overall score of 50%, the Polling day operations and arrangements for voting received the highest score of 64%. Counting, Result Compilation & Transmission of Results received the lowest score of 40% in the assessment and the Post-Poll phase received the score of 50%.
The assessment is briefed below:
PRE-POLL PHASE: While the quality of Pre-Poll Phase has received an overall score of 50%, it has declined nearly 12 percentage points in comparison to the quality of pre-poll phase of GE 2013 which had received a score of 62.35%. While PILDAT had already carried out an analysis of perception of pre-poll fairness in May 2018 terming it Unfair, the score assigned in this assessment has been based on the period between April to July 2018 and in particular is low on the parameters of neutrality of the federal and provincial caretaker governments, impartiality of the intelligence agencies and independence of the Judiciary.
POLLING DAY: The PILDAT assessment shows improved Polling-day Operations in GE 2018 compared to GE 2013 in terms of training and impartiality of polling staff and overall management of the polling arrangements for citizens as the process received an overall score of 64% It must be noted that in terms of polling day management, a steady improvement is recorded since 2002 and 2008 when the process received a score of 40% respectively, improving to 44% in 2013 and now to 64% in 2018.
COUNTING: Counting, Result Compilation & Transmission of Results have received the lowest score of 40% in the assessment. It must be noted that this is not just the lowest score for any single aspect of the quality of General Election 2018 but it is also the lowest score in comparison to the processes adopted in 2002, 2008 and 2013 when the similar process received scores of 43% respectively in 2002 and 2008 and improving to 47% in 2013 General Election which has, in 2018 General Election, plummeted to 40%. Each parameter under the Counting, Result Compilation & Transmission of Results including strict legal requirements of transparency of compilation of Statement of Vote Count, availability of Results to Polling Agents and Display at Polling Stations, Efficiency and Accuracy of the Transmission of Election Results from polling stations to Returning Officers, Transparency of Consolidation of Results at RO level and Efficiency and Accuracy of transmission of results from ROs to the ECP has been called into question.
POST-POLL PHASE: The Post-Poll Phase has also seen declining score of 50% compared to the score assigned to the similar process after the GE 2013 which stood at 68%. Again, the assessment of the quality of this process shows that while the lowest score assigned to this process was 40% after General Election of 2002, which saw the worst-of-its-kind post-poll rigging in recent history, the score improved after GE 2008 to 56%, recorded significant further improvements with the score of 68% after General Election 2013 and has now recorded a decline even lower than GE 2008. This decline in the quality of Post-election score compared to GE 2013 may partly be attributed to the fact that PMLN had gained a clear majority in the National and Provincial Assembly of Punjab in GE 2013 and it did not need to make intense efforts to win the support or joining of independent legislators to form the government.
The PILDAT Assessment of Quality of General Election 2018 is a continuation of earlier similar assessments that have been carried out by the think tank after General Elections of 2002, 2008 and 2013. Similar assessments in the past assigned the overall score of 37.30% to the quality of General Election 2002 and 40% to the quality of GE 2008. The scores improved for the quality of General Election 2013 at 56.76% but have dropped again to 51.79% for the quality of General Election 2018. This drop in the quality is mainly due to Poor Quality of Pre-poll phase which is largely attributable to the factors lying outside the direct remit of the ECP, the institute found.