Pak voters may be given 'none of the above' ballot choice

Pak voters may be given 'none of the above' ballot choice

For the first time, Pakistani voters may get the choice of not voting for any of the candidates in the fray for the May 11 general election, with the Election Commission today deciding to incorporate "none of the above" option in ballot papers.

The decision to include the "none of the above" option in ballot papers was made at a meeting of the poll panel chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, officials told the media.

Since the measure will require legal backing, a formal proposal will be sent by the Election Commission to the Prime Minister about issuing an ordinance, the officials said.

A blank slot will be included in ballots along with the names of candidates in every constituency.

If 51 per cent of voters opt for the blank slot, a re-election will be held in the constituency, the officials said.

The meeting further decided to monitor activities in all "sensitive" constituencies on election day by satellite.

A formal proposal will be sent to the Information Technology Ministry to help in this regard, officials said.

In a separate development, the Election Commission said it had received 17,186 nomination papers for the polls to the national and provincial assemblies.

The figure includes 5,802 nominations for the National Assembly or lower house of parliament and 11,384 for the four provincial assemblies.

The poll panel will complete the scrutiny of nominations on April 7 and appeals against the rejection of papers can be filed by April 10.

Election tribunals will decide the appeals by April 17 while candidates will be allowed to withdraw nominations till April 18.

The final list of candidates will be published on April 19, officials said.

The May 11 general election marks the first democratic transition in Pakistan's 66-year history.

The Pakistan People's Party-led government became the first elected set-up to complete a full five-year term on March 16.

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