Commission approves several changes to election rules

RO must provide results to candidates at district election commission’s office

ISLAMABAD  -  The Election Commission of Pa­kistan (ECP) Saturday approved changes to 18 clauses of the election rules, with a 15-day window for ob­jections to be raised. In a notification released, the electoral watchdog de­tailed several changes to the Elec­tion Rules, 2017 and invited politi­cal parties to file their objections or suggestions by October 7.

In the newly approved changes, the candidates will be required to operate a separate bank account for poll expenses. The notification, dated September 22, was uploaded to the ECP’s website.

“The present situation so war­rants and it is expedient to carry out further amendments in Rules 51, 52(3), 56(3), 66(4), 71(2), 84(4), 85(2), 87(2), 134(1), 134(2), 134(2A), 134A, 137(1), 143(1), 143(4), 158(1), 158(3), 161(1), Form41(g), Form41(h)(ii), Form 67, Form 68, and Annexure, and Form 69,” the notification reads.

As per the new change, it requires candidates to open a separate bank account specifically for election campaign expenses, prohibiting the use of joint accounts. Another alteration mandates that a returning officer (RO) must provide election results to candidates at the District Election Commission’s office.

Additionally, postal ballots will be sent in separate packets to the rele­vant ROs, and if the RO does not re­ceive the ballots before election day, the votes will not be counted, ac­cording to the ECP’s notification.

The ROs are now required to imme­diately inform the electoral watchdog if results are not announced by 2:00 am and provide reasons for the delay. The election results will be handed over in the presence of all candidates, and the RO will complete forms 47, 48, and 49 for results before sealing them, it added.

Under the amended rules, candi­dates must calculate their election­eering expenses and provide the details to the ECP. As per the rules the cost of filing an election-relat­ed petition with the ECP will be Rs100,000, and the ECP must make a decision within 180 days.

It is also mentioned that the candi­dates requesting an adjournment of the petition hearing will face fines ranging from Rs10,000 to Rs50,000. The adjournment of a case will not exceed three days, according to an­other amended rule. It was asked to political parties to notify the elec­tion commission of intra-party elec­tions 15 days before they take place and submit the results to the ECP within seven days of the elections. All the fines imposed by the elec­tion commission will be deposited into the national exchequer, as per another amendment.

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