In the previous blog we discussed about the various resources available for education of Voters in Pakistan. Today we’ll talk about District committees and their role in voter education.
The Voter Education Plan 2012-2013 introduces a district centered approach, which endeavors to build a direct relationship between the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and voters through District Election Commissioners’ (DEC) offices and staff. A crucial component of this Plan is the formation of District Committees, which will be coordinated by DECs and supervised by Regional Election Commissioners (RECs). Now let’s take a closer look at how these committees work.
District Committees serve as a forum at the district level where two way dialogues can take place between DECs and multiple stakeholders including youth, women, minorities and the community members as a whole. This forum provides an opportunity to share views, plans and updates, as well as to design and implement joint Voter Education activities that target various voter groups.
The Voter Education plan that was chalked out prior to the 2013 general elections, the District Committee can include but does not have to be limited to regional election commissioner (chairperson), district election commissioner (coordinator), community development department or social welfare department, CSOs (including youth, women, minorities and people with disabilities), representatives of political parties, representatives of local government departments and representatives of the Education Department. In addition to the above, DECs may develop an extensive list of other stakeholders and potential partners in their respective region, who may be invited to join the Committee as members or occasional observers. They may include but are not limited to former and current local councilors; Union council secretaries, District coordination officers; school teachers and college/university lecturers, lady health workers (LHWs), religious leaders, community leaders, tribal leaders, landlords, trade union representatives, journalists and lawyers. In short, any member of the relevant local community can be eligible to be a part of the District Committee – even you!
Before forming the District Committee, DECs may organize introductory visits to these various stakeholders or invite them to meetings at the DEC offices to present the ECP Voter Education Plan and their intention of forming a Committee.
Now that you know what District Committees are, now let’s talk about what roles District Committees Perform? According to ECP voter education plan, the District Committee meets on a regular basis and seeks voluntary participation of various members of the community. They engage community based civil society organizations registered with the district Social Welfare Department to work on Voter Education, seek voluntary support to disseminate voter awareness materials and focus on reaching out to marginalized voter groups in the district, including women, people with disabilities and all minority groups. District Committee also seek the support of political parties in increasing voter participation by developing district specific strategies to increase awareness on the importance of the vote and its impact on the country’s institutions.
In the next elections in your district keep an eye for the formation of the District Committee and play your role in Voter Education!