Pakistan’s election commission today rejected a plea by major political parties to extend the polling time by an hour, amid reports of slow voting in many constituencies, according to a media report.
The voting closed at 6:00 pm as scheduled. The request to extend the voting time was initiated by former jailed prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which was later joined by the Awami Muslim League (AML), the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaad (PTI). However, after deliberations the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) rejected the requests for an extension of one hour. In a press release, the ECP said all those who were present at polling stations before 6:00 pm would be allowed to cast their ballots. Halfway during the polling, PML-N sent a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner, seeking an extension in time by one hour, the Dawn reported.
“The PML-N is making this demand under Section 70 of the Elections Act 2017, which authorises ECP to ‘extend polling hours already fixed’,” read the letter, signed by Senator Mushahid Hussain. Citing “large-scale nationwide complaints”, the letter accused election officials of taking too much time in issuing ballot papers to voters, the report said. The letter said that only “3-4 people” are being allowed to enter the polling station at one time, slowing down the process. “This is not only causing inconvenience to voters…but may also end up depriving people from their right of vote,” it stated.