Low turnout at home, huge participation abroad in bypolls

Election Commission’s IT wing foils hackers’ 10,000 attempts to disable website for overseas Pakistanis

Islamabad: Voting concluded in Pakistan on Sunday at 5pm for by-elections to 11 national and 24 provincial assembly seats across the country.

The polling had started at 8am and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had made it clear that no extra time would be given for polling.

However, despite announcements through print and electronic media a low turnout — around 22pc in urban areas — marked Sunday’s by-elections.

On the contrary, overseas Pakistani registered voters who were given the right to vote for the first time, participated in the polling process enthusiastically and according to ECP more than 65pc of the total 7,410 registered voters cast their votes.

According to ECP spokesperson, the number of overseas Pakistanis who had cast their vote by 3pm had crossed 4,070 and hopefully it will grow by the time election process concludes.

Out of 4,070 cast votes by expatriate Pakistanis 3,317 votes alone were polled for candidates contesting on 11 National Assembly seats, he said.

This is first time that overseas Pakistanis are allowed to cast their vote in by-elections and according to former Secretary General of Free And Fair Election Network (FAFEN) and a senior analyst Sarwar Bari it was the first drop of the rain and in the days to come it will gradually pick up and you may see an overwhelming number of Pakistanis living overseas are to get registered with ECP portal for overseas Pakistanis and cast their votes.

Election Commission of Pakistan too took special measures to ensure smooth polling by the overseas Pakistanis. According to DG IT of Election Commission Mr Khizar Aziz the website designed for overseas Pakistanis worked quite successfully and there were no issues faced by the Pakistani voters casting their vote in foreign lands.

“At times, due to increase in number and multiple clicks, it slowed down but there was not a single moment that it failed or hang up,” he said.

Meanwhile, Election Commission IT team also foiled several attempts by hackers to disable or block Election Commission’s portal designed for overseas Pakistanis.

More than 10,000 such attempts were made at home and abroad to hack ECP website, however the IT team was quite vigilant and thwarted all such attempts, said the sources.

BOX

Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had received lukewarm response from over 630,000 overseas Pakistanis to register for the Oct 14 by elections. After a lot of advertising and 15-day time (from Sept 1-Sept 15 later it was extended to Sept 17) was given to overseas Pakistanis to get registered but only 7419 registered in ECP’s I-balloting drive. However, those who did, showed enthusiasm and interest in the voting process and cast their vote using ECP’s portal for I-voting.

According to a statement released by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the website for the overseas voters remained functional during the same timing from 8.am to 5pm (Pakistan Standard Time) and registered voters from abroad cast their votes in the same hours. On the directions of Supreme Court of Pakistan in August this year, ECP had taken measures to include overseas Pakistanis in the polling process.

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