The one thing the people trying to rig the elections at the Assistant Commissioner offices have to overcome this time around is the uniquely numbered plastic security seal that prevents the new translucent ballot boxes’ slot from being opened without detection. Party agents, international observers and the 20,000 FAFEN [Free and Fair Election Network, a Pakistani election monitoring organization] observers have all been trained to record the unique serial numbers of the seals used on the ballot boxes in the polling stations, so they have to be prevented from entering the polling stations throughout the Election Day, which would defeat the alleged clandestine stealth-rigging at a select number of polling stations. Also, the party agents and observers at the Returning Officer office have been trained to record these serial numbers and will compare the numbers with the once recorded by their colleagues at the polling station level.
We have ordered 6.5 million seals to the ECP and every single seal has a unique number. The Presiding Officers have no way of knowing which seals will be used in their particular polling station until election day. So, unless each and every AC office has access to 6.5 million identical seals on their premises and can go through every single box and find these unique 30 seals it cannot be done. Also, logistically, someone need to order 1,768,000 million seals on the international market, have it shipped to Pakistan, and then park a couple of sea containers on each premise of the AC just to store the 6.5 million seals. In addition, you probably need to have a couple of hundred workers in each location to find those seals. All this without anyone spilling the beans. I find this non-plausible.
The original post follows:
Pakistani journalist Raheel Asghar Ginai published a complete guide to the "Art of Rigging" in The Friday Times (behind subscription firewall) on December 28, the day after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The method described is exactly the one I was discussing in previous posts, but the account is more detailed. The description is accompanied with an arithmetical illustration from the 1990 election, where I first encountered this system.
Ginai shows that the overall results can be decisively changed by rigging only a few well chosen polling places in a few key constituencies and that the visible part of the polling and vote counting can be done in a completely legal and transparent fashion. Here is the system:
Methodology of Rigging on Election DayUsing figures from the 1990 elections, Ginai shows how rigging only 2.84% of the votes could account for the shift of 47 seats from the PPP to the Islami Jamhuri Ittihad, which he characterized as "a creation of the intelligence agencies." This shift made the difference between a PPP government and an IJI government. Today the PML-Q plays the role that the IJI did in 1990.
The technique followed on the day of elections is very simple, but foolproof, and comprises the following steps:
l Political parties to be defeated and to be elected are identified
l Seats that are sure to be won by opposition candidates with clear margins are not touched. Fair elections are held in their constituencies
l Similarly, seats in which opposition candidates lose elections with large differences are also not chosen for rigging
l Only those constituencies are chosen where a close fight is expected and the difference of a few thousand votes can swing the results
l A normal constituency consists of about 250 polling stations. Out of about 250 polling stations, hardly 25 to 30 polling stations are chosen for rigging. The remaining polling stations are not touched at all. Fair elections are held in these polling stations as well
l No interference is carried out during polling at any station. Even at the twenty to thirty polling stations designated for rigging, nothing is done till polling is over. As a result, voters observe no rigging anywhere.
l The presiding officers of the chosen 20 to 30 polling stations are appointed by the approval of the intelligence services. They are trustworthy and ‘reliable’.
l Police personnel posted at all polling stations are instructed to obtain a copy of the result from the presiding officers at the end of counting of votes. These results are compiled unofficially at secretly established offices (mostly offices of Assistant Commissioners) to determine how many votes are required to make a defeated candidate win the elections.
l The selected presiding officers now play their pivotal role. They do not pass on a copy of the result to the polling agents of contesting candidates who are threatened by the police to leave the polling stations and disappear without contacting their candidate till the announcement of the result for that particular constituency. Tactics like threats of involving them in murder cases, drug trafficking etc. are used against the polling agents.
l The presiding officers of the chosen polling stations, instead of going to the returning officers at the end of polling, take their record to the secret offices mentioned above. Assistant Commissioners, who have the statistics of the results obtained by the police, cast the required number of votes in favour of the government candidate to make him win.
l The presiding officers then take the modified record of their polling stations to the returning officers, who declare the results according to the figures presented to them by the presiding officers.
l Obviously, the results of such polling stations reach the returning officers with delay, and perhaps are the last to be received. Before arrival of their results, the counting by the returning officers show opposition candidates in the lead. Their supporters start celebrating victory. But the tables are turned by the rigged results of the chosen polling stations towards the end of counting.
l To avoid detection of rigging, polling station–wise progressive results are not released to the media during counting of votes step by step as they are received. Only the final result of the constituency is announced. Only in the 1971 elections, polling station-wise progressive results were made public during counting, because the government did not intend to rig those elections.
With this methodology, voters and observers alike observe no rigging at all throughout the polling day. Changing results by a very small percentage at a very few places produces the desired results against the will of the people and an unpopular government is placed in power ....
Ginai offers useful advice for poll watchers and election observers on election day:
Political parties, contesting candidates, the media, and international observers and the voters have to be made aware of this methodology of rigging. The movement of each presiding officer will have to be monitored on the evening of Election Day, till the result of his polling station is released to the media, and the presiding officer reaches the office of the returning officer. Polling station-wise results must be released to the public and private TV and radio channels progressively. Inquiries must be made into results of polling stations that arrive with abnormal delay to the returning officers. Candidates should make attendance of all of their polling agents of all polling stations compulsory at a prescribed point in the evening of the polling day. Any missing polling agent must be traced and questioned in privacy.Note on Asif Zardari's sarcastic name for PML-Q. I have seen several reports that Asif Ali Zardari has called the PML-Q a "killer" party. This is an untranslatable play on words. PML-Q stands for Pakistan Muslim League -- Quaid-i-Azam. This distinguishes it from the PML-- Nawaz, the offshoot (or original) headed by Nawaz Sharif. Quaid-i-Azam is the quaint olde transliteration of Qa'id-i-A'zam, or Great Leader, the title bestowed on Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan and President of the original Muslim League. (Qa'id is the same Arabic word that entered Spanish as "El Cid," or "alcalde," the Spanish word for "mayor.")
Normally, the media and international observers try to observe the polling process at various polling stations. But as rigging is not done during the day, it remains undetected. At the most they will point out some instances of pre-poll rigging, which is rampant these days. People at large form their opinion about the fairness of elections by observing order and discipline at the polling stations. They will, thus, be satisfied, as nothing untoward will be observed at any polling station, and it will never come to light how the will of the people was robbed with the secret casting of just four fake votes per thousand by the district administrations.
The word for "killer" used by Zardari is "qatil," which starts with the same Arabic letter, qaf, as qa'id. So what he is saying is that the PML-Q is actually the PML-Qatil.