NADRA trying to provide Computerised National Identity Cards to all voters
By: Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD: As the Election Commission gears up to expand the scope of its ‘voter awareness campaign’, the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) is working on an aggressive plan to provide all citizens with computerised national identity cards before the upcoming general election.
Talking to Dawn, Nadra chairman Tariq Malik said the authority had issued over 92 million CNICs which constituted 96 per cent of the adult population and was determined to register all the left-out people before the next elections.
Pointing out that the national identity card was a prerequisite for enrolment as voter as well as casting a vote, he said about 15,000 people was getting CNICs each day, mostly young adults turning 17 or 18. Subsequently all new ID card holders would be enrolled as voters before elections.
About electoral rolls developed after a countrywide door-to-door verification process, he termed the move a major step saying the project resulted in removing inaccuracies, duplication and unverified votes, which undoubtedly helped restore public confidence.
“It is the first time in the 65-year history of the country that nobody is registered at more than one place, which has not yet been achieved in voters’ list of USA, UK, France and India,” the Nadra chairman said.
He urged the people to understand the power and importance of the ballot and come out and get themselves registered on electoral lists.
Malik said that all voters had now been enabled to check their vote by sending 13 digit CNIC number (without spaces or dash) to 8300 and verify their vote identity over mobile phones – without the hassle of going to display centres.
He said Nadra had also sought help of leaders of all political parties requesting their assistance in mobilising people to obtain their CNICs, which was mandatory for registration as voters. He urged all political parties to extend their outreach and presence across the country by providing an opportunity to Nadra to access pockets of population that remained unregistered.
Additional Secretary of Election Commission Muhammad Afzal Khan when contacted said Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim would spearhead the voters’ awareness campaign aimed at achieving the target to increase the voters’ turnout in the next general elections to 88 per cent.
He said the Chief Election Commissioner would travel to all provincial capitals and hold meetings with business tycoons, political and religious leaders and other opinion makers to seek their support in making the campaign a success.
He said the Commission had decided this time not to go for the traditional short-lived voters’ education campaign but to adopt innovative ways to do it in a scientific and well-planned manner. The EC was planning to build capacity of the staff to reach out to voters effectively.
Observing that participation of voters determined credibility of an electoral process and the subsequent formation of a representative government, he said the voters’ turnout had remained between 35 and 45 per cent since 1997. He said in the electoral history of the country, maximum voters’ participation ever achieved was 55 per cent in 1977 elections. It dropped to 53 per cent in 1985, and to 43 per cent in 1988. It was 45 per cent in 1990, 40 per cent in 1993, 35 per cent in 1997, 42 per cent in 2002 and 44 per cent in 2008 general elections.
Khan said that different surveys revealed that the number of voters from among women, minorities, youth and people with disabilities had been very low. “This situation calls for making appropriate actions to earn the confidence of the voters,” he said.