ISLAMABAD: As political parties gear up for the upcoming elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has unveiled the final polling scheme for the February 8 elections, as reported by Private Media.
The electoral body envisions a total of 90,675 polling stations, housing 276,402 polling booths, to cater to over 128 million voters nationwide. Acknowledging a shortfall of 150,000 polling booths mandated by law, a senior official conceded that in high-turnout scenarios, voting might become nearly impossible at various locations.
According to the scheme, Punjab will witness 50,944 polling stations for the general elections, followed by 19,006 in Sindh, 15,697 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and 5,028 in Balochistan.
Despite missing the legal deadline outlined in Section 59(6) of the Elections Act, 2017, for the publication of the final list of polling stations, the electoral body eventually released the scheme. The distribution of polling stations is categorized as normal, sensitive, or highly sensitive based on security considerations and electoral violence history.
Furthermore, the ECP took notice of an assistant commissioner participating in an election rally and appointed a new returning officer in their place. District monitoring officers in various regions have imposed fines on candidates for violating the model code of conduct.
The removal of banned publicity materials is underway, and notices have been issued to seven candidates for code of conduct violations, with 71 notices issued so far.
The ECP faces a new challenge after the Supreme Court allowed some candidates to participate, complicating the ballot paper printing process. Elections may be postponed in constituencies requiring reprinting, as the ECP had previously warned.
In a related development, the Election Commission has authorized district returning officers and returning officers with magisterial powers under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, until the official results are consolidated and announced for the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies elections.