YPF presents its package of recommendations to the Special Committee on Electoral Refroms

Young Parliamentarians Forum
Recommendations on Electoral Reforms
To be submitted to: Special Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms

Electoral Administration
•    To empower and further strengthen the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the ECP should be enabled to become more independence by:
o    Giving power to issue rules without Presidential approval.
o    Removing the requirement that acting CEC comes from Judiciary. Acting CEC can be appointed from other members of the Commission.
o    Giving it more financial powers and autonomy by removing the requirement to have its expenditures approved from the Ministry of Finance.
•    ECP should be required to appoint District Election Commissioners as District Returning Officers. All polling staff should be under complete control of ECP. Staff from all other departments should work on deputation under ECP during election duty.
•    ECP should be required by law to have strong vigilance and monitoring of the electoral process.
•    Criteria for appointment of the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).
•    Consideration should be given to the mechanism for accountability of ECP. One such way is to require the ECP to submit annual reports to Parliament or relevant standing committees of the parliament. ECP should also be required to have strong reporting to the public and also answer public queries.
•    Provisions for accountability of the District Returning Officers, Returning Officers and polling staff should be incorporated in the law. Such requirements may include, among other rights, to complain against staff to ECP.

•     Consideration should be given to using voters’ list data for reviewing delimitation if the recent Census data is not available.
•    Law should restrict variations between constituencies to 10% or maximum 15% to maintain relative equality of suffrage in electoral constituencies.
•    Legal requirements should be made to review the delimitation every two years after General Elections.

Rights of Candidates:         
•    Consideration should be given to reviewing subjective criteria for candidates such as “good character” or “knowledge of Islamic teaching”. There is a need to interpret these properly. Consideration should also be given to have a more objective and reasonable criteria.

Voters’ List
•    The Electoral list needs improvements in the following areas:
o    Removal of deceased persons. NADRA should provide such data to ECP to remove from the lists.
o    Increasing registration on the voters’ list. People may register for vote when they get CNIC.
•    Unified electoral list should be made where all citizens are put on the same list. No one should be put on any separate list.

Transparency in the Electoral Reforms
•    ECP should be required to put all data in public domain including notifications, circulars, and other such data.
•    All results, with detailed data of all polling stations should be posted swiftly on ECP’s website. Results should also be posted at polling station and constituency consolidation level. Legal requirements should be made for that as well.

Complaint System
•    ECP should be required by law to receive complaints on electoral process and also address those complaints.
•    Right to complain on results and other electoral process should also be extended to political parties and voters’.
•    Tribunal system should be separated from ECP and be brought under High Courts or Supreme Courts.

Electoral and political finances
•    Spending limits for campaigns should be reviewed. Consideration should be given for increasing them.
•    Strong monitoring and enforcement system is requirement for ensuring compliance with code of conduct. ECP should be required by law to develop such system.
•    Advertisements by political parties, other than by candidates, should be brought under regulation as well. Provisions on regulating campaigns by alliances should also be stipulated in the relevant laws.

Caretaker government
•    Caretaker setup should be appointment in consultation with all major parliamentary parties, not just government and the opposition party.
•    Consideration should be given whether we need a separate Caretaker government or not, as many Westminster style democracies - including India - do not have separate caretakers.
•    Regardless of the mode of the caretaker setup, following requirements be made into the law:
o    Defining the limits of policy/decision-making authority for Caretaker governments by establishing concrete criteria for decisions that goes beyond ordinary matters of administration.
o    Restrictions on major appointments and undertakings by defining qualitative thresholds for eligible appointments
o    Formulating guidelines on financial reporting, requiring the caretaker government to disclose all relevant information on resources and expenditures
o    Submission of a performance report at the end of Caretaker’s term, which should be evaluated according to the criteria set out above.

Women’s participation
•    Consideration should be given to reviewing elections of women on reserved systems. The system needs more transparency in party lists.
•    ECP & NADRA should have targeted drives to increase women’s registration as voters.
•    Legal mechanisms for punitive action against forced disenfranchisement of women should be stipulated.
•    ECP should be required by law to provide gender-segregated data for all election related information including electoral rolls and voters’ turnout

Persons with Disabilities
•    Persons with disabilities should be consulted for specific recommendations on electoral reforms.
•    Legal requirements should be made for universal access at polling stations.
•    To improve secrecy of voting for persons with disabilities, tactile and braille should be used on ballot papers.

Reform process
•    Electoral reforms process should be opened to citizens and political parties not present in the parliament. Public hearings may also be held.
•    Permanent Standing Committees on Electoral Issues should be made. Considerations should be given to have a permanent parliamentary committee on electoral issues

Other Issues:
•    Internal party democracy be improved and strengthened with more frequent elections.
•    Legal requirements should be made to have proper accreditation for the citizen observers. They should be given access to all steps of the electoral process (pre-elections, election-day and post-election). ECP should also be required to have a Code of Conduct for observers.