Participatory and Representative Democracy in General Elections 2018
Types of Democracy
In that regard, there are two main types of democracy, participatory (direct) and representative democracy. The concept of participatory democracy entails that people should participate directly when it comes to decision-making and political affairs. Participatory democracy will depend on the size of the population. It could be practiced where the size of the population is small. On the other hand, representative democracy entails that people elect their own representative who is accountable for their needs. The difference is that in representative democracy people do not participate directly in decision-making. This type of democracy works well where the size of the population is large.
Process of Democracy
The process of democracy begins with the electoral process that is largely based on the performance of the government. Elections also foster social mobilization by encouraging competition among political parties through public rallies, corner meetings, door-to-door contacts and political campaigns.
The duty of the Election Commission of Pakistan is to ensure that the law and rules address the issues that were faced during previous elections and introduce better reforms that would make the electoral system stronger. In that regard, the focus of the upcoming General Elections 2018 should be on the inclusivity and diversity of women, persons with disabilities, transgenders and minorities.
The Election Commission of Pakistan plays a huge role in the preparation of the electoral roll. They begin by issuing CNICs to individuals who are interested in registering themselves to vote. Around 4.2 million voters have been estimated to be registered by door-to-door verification of CNICs.
Eligibility To Be A Voter
A Pakistani citizen who is 18 years of age on the first day of January in the year in which the rolls are prepared or revised, is deemed to be a resident of an electoral area and can enroll as a voter in that electoral area. Only the citizens who are registered on the electoral rolls can cast their votes.
After registration, the person has to make sure that he or she is on the ‘voters list’. The individual can obtain this list from the registration officer in order to check for his or her name. Once confirmed that the person is registered, he or she will be allowed to vote in the national and provincial elections.
Use of Technology in the Electoral Process
Users can get more information about their vote by installing the “CLICK ECP” App on their smartphones. This was launched by the President to create awareness about the electoral process among the youth in the modern era. Some features of this App include: how to cast a vote, how to verify your name by sending an SMS with your CNIC number to 8300 and how to locate your polling station. A message by the Chief Election Commissioner is received as a response.
How and Where to Register Election Complaints
If a person faces any issues during the elections, he or she may simply write a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan on their listed address, describing the nature of complaint. A complaint center has also been set up by the ECP in Islamabad to receive complaints regarding violations of the code of conduct and issues with polling stations. The complaint center is available 24/7.
Building upon observations from the General Elections in 2013, Punjab has an estimate of 31,302,765 males voters and 24,519,732 female voters; Sindh has 11,445,705 male voters and 9,200,071 female voters; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has 8,006,654 male voters and 6,009,035 female voters; and Balochistan has 2,132,647 male voters and 1,562,974 female voters. Islamabad has 373,108 male voters and 320,869 female voters. It is quite evident from these statistics that the number of female voters has been lagging behind by at least 12 million.
According to reforms introduced under Section 91(1) of the Elections Act 2017, Presiding Officers will prepare a statement of voters by gender, showing the total number of male and female voters at a polling station. They will then send the statement to the Returning Officer and the Commission. Where they believe that women have not exercised their voting right, they can send a report to the Commission and Returning Officer.
However, certain exceptions have also been made to this. If the result of a poll shows that the total number or turnout of women has been less that 10 percent, the Election Commission of Pakistan will declare the vote as void.
The transgender community has been struggling for a long time for its voice to be heard. In General Elections 2013, Bindya Rana, a transgender, contested an election in the constituency PS- 114, where only 27 votes had been secured. In the upcoming General Elections 2018, 14 transgenders have decided to participate and contest for both National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies. It is necessary to not exclude them as they have an equal right to vote. In October 2017, an organization named All Pakistan Transgender Election Network was established to help transgenders with the formation of electoral strategies. The organization began by filing nomination papers in both Assemblies. Farzana Riaz, NA-33, Nayyab Ali, NA-142 and Nadeem Kashish, NA-52, are candidates who will be participating in the elections to the National Assembly.
Persons With Disabilities
The right to vote is a building block of democracy. Differently-abled persons or persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Pakistan are estimated to be around 5.035 million. If millions of them get excluded from the electoral process, we cannot call the elections fair and inclusive. If PWDs are not elected or represented fairly then it leaves a big question mark and doubts on the performance of the Election Commission of Pakistan in ensuring equal treatment for all citizens of Pakistan.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has also established the Directorate for Overseas Voting to undertake necessary research and coordinate with stakeholders. However, citizens of Pakistan need to know if a decision has been made. Overseas Pakistanis stand deprived of voting, yet again. The Election Commission of Pakistan has concluded that voting electronically is impossible for the upcoming General Elections 2018. Some have argued that a separate voting list has to be prepared especially for overseas voters and some say that the online system has not matured yet.
Elections are integral to democracy and it is not possible to think of a democratic system without free and fair elections.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any organization with which she might be associated.