Islamabad: The United Nations Development Program UNDP in Pakistan handed over the first set of voter education materials to the Election Commission of Pakistan ECP on Wednesday in preparation for the upcoming general elections. Voter education kits including stickers, posters, t-shirts, caps, pens and badges have been sent to the provincial, regional and district field offices of the ECP to support them in their significant work of reaching out to voters.
Mr. Marc André Franche, Country Director, UNDP Pakistan said, “Citizens well versed on their rights and obligations and knowledge of the crucial issues at the centre of the debate is a corner stone of democratic culture, which in turn is crucial for sustainable human development. Together with the ECP and other partners, we are working to increase the number of voters in these elections particularly women, first time voters and minority groups.”
UNDP supported the ECP to train more than two hundred of its regional and district officers on voter education earlier this year. This is the first time in the ECP’s history that its officers have been trained on such a crucial issue. These voter education materials will be used by the ECP’s district officers in their outreach activities with community leaders, civil society organizations and colleges. ECP officers in all districts across Pakistan are informing voters about the forthcoming elections, motivating them to check their voter registration details and vote on the Election Day.
According to the ECP, turnout in the 2008 elections was a mere 44 percent. The ECP’s goal for these elections is at least 63 percent. UNDP, together with UN Women is actively supporting the ECP in producing voter education materials and implementing a nationwide media campaign in the weeks leading up to the elections to encourage greater interest and participation in the elections especially by women and the youth.
UNDP is assisting the Election Commission of Pakistan in areas such as training, results management and voter education through a three year electoral cycle support project supported by the Governments of Australia, Norway and the European Union. With the support of UNDP and in close collaboration with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems-IFES, the ECP has launched a voter education campaign targeted at inclusion of youth and women, as well as a new elections results management system for upcoming national and provincial elections.