PESHAWAR: Voters in several areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s capital on Thursday complained they struggled to trace polling stations after receiving “outdated”information about them from the Election Commission of Pakistan’s short message service.
Several voters complained that they reached the place where their polling stations were supposed to be but were shocked to know their votes were shifted to another place.
“I sent my CNIC number to 8300 to find out where my votewas registered. I received an SMS revealing that my vote is to be cast in a polling station at the Hayatabad Sports Complex but when I went there, it turned out that information was outdated and the polling station was changed,” said Naeem Shah, a voter in Hayatabad Township Peshawar.
He said seven polling stations were set up at the Sports Complex and five of them were for women and two were for men, so he had to spend a considerable time to trace his polling station, but finally, he came to know that his vote was not there.
The voter added that as the internet and mobile service was suspended, he couldn’t trace his polling station.
Another voter in the area told Dawn that the ECP’s SMS updated him about the registration of his vote at a polling station in the Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Phase-I, Hayatabad, but when he went there, he found out that no polling station was set up there and his vote was registered at a polling station located around three kilometers away.
He said he owned a vehicle, so he went to the other station to cast his vote, but there were scores of voters who had no transport due to which they couldn’t go to exercise their franchise.
“The suspension of mobile phone and internet service added to the misery of voters as they could neither visit the ECP website to look for their respective polling stations in the relevant polling scheme of their constituency nor could they send SMS to 8300 to get fresh information,” he said.
A few polling stations set up for the last elections were missing from the polling scheme to the confusion of the local voters.
Some residents of Badaber, Mattani and Passani villages claimed their votes were shifted to far-flung polling stations.
A Christian voter in Sufaid Dehri area told Dawn that members of his religious community had votes in NA-31 constituency but a polling station for them was set up at a distance of around five kilometers in Hayatabad.
He added that it was very difficult for those voters to get there to exercise their franchise.
Zikria Mohammad Younas of Passani village said he didn’t know why his vote was shifted from his area to another polling station.
Polling station relocation was also reported in Phase-I of Hayatabad.
Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2024