Nearly 8,000 ballots from NA-125 ‘unverified’, Nadra tells SC

ISLAMABAD: A report submitted to the Supreme Court by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) on Wednesday claimed that 7,892 ballot papers from the 2013 general elections in Lahore’s NA-125 constituency did not qualify for fingerprint match due to a host of reasons.

The hotly contested constituency, where incumbent Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique defeated Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader and senior lawyer Hamid Khan, was among the four constituencies where the PTI had alleged widespread rigging.

The fingerprint-matching report furnished by Nadra showed that of the 7,892 counterfoils, the identity of the voter could not be established due to invalid CNIC numbers mentioned on the counterfoil in 3,998 cases. In addition, 1,917 of the counterfoils did not have any CNIC number mentioned on them, Nadra said.

The Supreme Court is currently hearing an appeal filed by Mr Rafique requesting the court to set aside the May 4, 2015, cancellation of his election by an election tribunal.

Accepting Hamid Khan’s Jan 26 plea, the Supreme Court had given Nadra three months to verify thumb impressions on the available ballot paper counterfoils used during the 2013 general elections in all 265 polling stations of the constituency, with the cost being borne by the petitioner.

Multiple votes cast on 398 CNICs; five votes cast by someone other than CNIC holder

On March 1, the court ordered the PTI candidate to deposit the amount with Nadra within four weeks, otherwise it would recall its Jan 26 order. Subsequently, the expenses were paid.

On Wednesday, Nadra explained in its report that of the unverified counterfoils, 184 belonged to voters who were not registered to vote in NA-125, whereas 398 of the CNIC numbers mentioned on about 797 counterfoils were used more than once. This information was extracted by capturing CNIC numbers on used counterfoils. At least 996 counterfoils did not have fingerprints on them, the report said.

In addition to the 7,892 unverified counterfoils, 206,242 others were processed through the Automated Fingerprinting Identification System (AFIS), but Nadra was unable to process 14,139 of these because the quality of the fingerprint was not up to the mark. However, the CNIC numbers mentioned on such counterfoils were found to be valid, the report said.

Of the remaining 57,103 fingerprints, a total of 57,098 counterfoils were authenticated by AFIS. This means that the fingerprint affixed on the counterfoil at the time the ballot paper was issued matched with the fingerprint data of the registered voter, available in Nadra’s database.

However, a total of five votes failed authentication, the report said, explaining that this meant that someone else voted against the CNIC number mentioned on the used counterfoil.

The report said Nadra received election material consisting of 18 sealed cloth bags, containing 303 khaki envelopes on May 2, 2016. The envelopes were opened and reconciled in the presence of relevant officers and representatives starting from May 3.