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ECP has not printed ‘160 million extra’ ballot papers for 2024 general elections

Separate ballot papers are used for the national and provincial elections

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Claim: A tweet implies that the ECP printed 260 million ballot papers for 128 million voters and 160 million of them are extra which can be used for rigging in general elections 2024.

Fact: The claim is misleading because both national and provincial assemblies have separate ballot papers and each voter gets two ballot papers (one for NA and one for PA) making the figure double according to the number of voters.

On 5 February 2024, Hum News journalist Shakir Mehmood Awan tweeted (archive) in Urdu on X (formerly Twitter),

“12 کروڑ ووٹرز کےلیے 26 کروڑ بیلٹ پیپرز کی ترسیل کا کام مکمل ہوگیا کے،،، سمجھ تو گئے ہوں گے باقی کے 16 کروڑ بیلٹ پیپرز کہاں کے لیے استعمال ہوں گے۔ ”

[The delivery of 26 crore ballot papers to 12 crore voters has been completed. It is understood where the remaining 16 crore ballot papers will be used.]

Elections 2024

Ahead of the general elections on 8 February 2024, the political landscape is characterised by distinct circumstances for major political parties and the shadow of alleged military interference.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) are contesting elections separately after forming a coalition government in 2022. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), faces obstacles with multiple key leaders and supporters behind bars, defections, the loss of its cricket bat symbol and multiple independent candidates raising concerns about fair campaigning and a level playing field.

Soch Fact Check has observed an influx of false and misleading claims that may impact public opinion and voter behaviour.

Fact or Fiction?

On 4 February 2024, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) published a press release according to which the ECP completed the printing of 260 million ballot papers for 859 national and provincial assembly constituencies across the country for the upcoming general elections on 8 February.

The press release also explains that the rise in the number of voters as compared to the previous 2018 elections is the reason for the increase in the number of ballot papers.

In the upcoming elections, approximately 127 million people are eligible to vote according to the data released by the ECP in September 2023. Later in December, the final voter list increased to 128.5 million, as reported by the Express Tribune.

According to a Fafen (free and fair elections network) report titled, ‘Electoral Rolls, General Election 2024,’ the total number of registered voters on the Final Electoral Rolls (FER) is 128.5 million, marking a substantial increase of 22.5 million voters since 2018.

As per election guidelines, one voter will be handed over two ballot papers at the polling station, one for the national and provincial assemblies each. The green ballot paper is for the national assembly, while the white ballot paper is for the provincial assembly.

Soch Fact Check also reached out to the ECP’s spokesperson, Nadeem Haider, who confirmed on a call that 260 ballot papers are printed for 90,000 polling stations across the country because the figures are rounded off during the printing of ballot books.

Keeping the number of voters and guidelines in mind, Soch Fact Check concludes that if the total number of voters is 128.58 million, the ballot papers will be twice the amount which is 257 million to be exact, rounded off to 260 million in total.

Virality

On X, the misleading post received 380,200 views, 2,100 likes and 1000 reposts at the time of writing.

The misleading posts implying that there are an extra 160 million ballot papers were shared mostly by pro-PTI accounts here, and here on Facebook.

Conclusion: The ECP printed 260 million ballot papers for 128.5 million voters, as each voter gets two separate papers for the national and provincial assemblies in general elections. There is no evidence that an extra 160 million ballot papers will be distributed illegally in constituencies across the country.

 

Background image in cover photo: The News

To appeal against our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com

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