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Sticker on voter ID cards being reconsidered: IEC

Sticker on voter ID cards being reconsidered: IEC

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Apr 21, 2018 - 19:28

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Paper identity cards were distributed to 160,000 people during a month time (March 21 to April 20) while 189,000 registered as voters in one week across the country, the Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon was told on Saturday.

Independent Election Commission (IECinfo-icon) officials told the lower house that the attachment of a sticker to the paper ID cards of those registering as voters was being reconsidered.

The IEC launched the voter’s registration process on April 14 ahead of Oct 20 Wolesi Jirga and district council elections.

A special program for distribution of paper ID cards has also been started for those who had not obtained the cards previously in order to get registered to vote.

The voter’s registration process has been underway based on the paper IDs and a registered individual gets a sticker on his/her ID card as a sign of registration.

The Wolesi Jirga on Saturday summoned Population Registration Department (PRD) head Hamayon Muhtat and acting IEC secretary Shahla Haqparast to brief lawmakers about preparations for the upcoming elections, ID cards distribution, voter registration and sticker attachment.

A number of lawmakers expressed concern over what they called a sluggishness voter registration and ID cards distribution processes. They said lack of voter awareness, insecurity and consequences of stickers on ID cards were challenges the IEC faced.

Some lawmakers went on to claim that voter registration form books were sold and purchased.

ID cards distribution

Humayun Muhtat, PRD head, said that full transparency in the electoral process should not be expected in the absence of a biometric system.

He said his department was ready to distribute ID cards to 10 million people eligible for vote in coordination with the IEC.

According to Muhtat, 30 million people had received ID cards over the last 45 years. The ID cards distribution process is underway and so far 235,000 people have obtained the paper cards during the past three months across the country.

He said 153,000 officers had been tasked by PRD across the country for distribution of ID cards. Ten million people would be issued the cards over the next six months.

Concern about sticker attachment

A number of people have complained about the attachment of a sticker to their ID cards, saying the issue may create security problems for people as the Talibaninfo-icon have threatened residents in many areas against participating in elections.

Muhtat said the issue was discussed at a meeting at the Presidential Palace last week and the IEC was tasked to reconsider the issue.

The IEC acting secretary also said the government had ordered them to discuss the issue.

Shahla Haqparast said the issue had not been so far discussed but the IEC would make a decision on it.

The voting sticker would be attached to a copy of voters’ ID cards in insecure areas and the voters should bring both their original and the stickered copy of the cards to the polling stations on the voting day, she said.

Sluggish voter registration, ID cards distribution process

About lawmakers’ concern about a slow going distribution of ID cards, Humayun Muhtat said: “The reason why the voter registration process is slow is not the absence of ID cards, but people’s lack of interest in elections, people should be encouraged to participate in elections.”

The IEC acting secretary said 189,000 people had registered as voters in the last one week.

Lack of public awareness and security concerns

Some lawmakers complained about a lack of public awareness about elections.

However, the IEC said public awareness messages were advertized through 12 television channels and 66 radio stations, a process ongoing from March 26.

Shahla Haqparast asked the Parliament, ulemainfo-icon, political leaders and every one should play their part in encouraging people to participate in the elections. “More participation means more transparency.”

A number of lawmakers said holding elections in unstable areas was impossible so as essential measures in such areas until October 20, the Election Day.

The IEC confirmed problems existed but said there was no other way and people should participate and support elections.

Selling and purchase of voter registration form books

Three MPs (Humayon Humayon, Haji Zahir Qadir and Mirwais Yaseni) in today’s meeting of Wolesi Jirga claimed that the voter registration forms were being sold and purchased.

Humayon, first deputy speaker, said those wishing to contest the Oct 2o polls might misuse the forms.

However, Shahla Haqparast said: “No evidence is available to prove voter registration forms or stickers are sold, the voter documents have special numbers and no one can misuse them.”

At the end, Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi asked IEC officials to work on a mechanism that encouraged people to participate in the elections and ensure transparency.

mds/ma

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