During the 2013 polls, I was among the thousands of Pakistanis who had resolved to vote for the first time. However, the biggest dilemma that I faced was to understand the process of voter registration. Nevertheless, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) prior to the polls had introduced a number of voter-friendly initiatives that made the task of registration easy and efficient.

The most important step in this regard is to know your voter status. This can be done by simply texting your Competarized National Identity Card (CNIC) number without dashes to 8300. If your vote is already registered, by doing so, you will soon receive a reply with your CNIC Number, Electoral Area, i.e. district, tehsil and city/town/village, Block Code and Serial Number. If you are not registered, you can have your vote registered by following the simple steps given below.

Firstly, of course, being 18 years of age and having a valid CNIC is mandatory. With your CNIC safely tucked in your pocket you must head to the nearest Office of Assistant Election Commissioner / Registration Officer located in your area. If you do not know where your closest office is located, you can find out by contacting the Election Commission of Pakistan and asking them the address and phone number of the office closest to your location.

Once at the office, collect the “Voter Registration Form” and fill it out. Once you’ve filled out the form, attach a copy of your National Identity Card as well as “Proof of Residence”, (e.g. any form of a utility bill including electricity, petrol, water or telephone). Once complete, submit the form and you’re DONE!

Overseas Pakistanis are allowed to be registered through their family, friends or relatives who live in the area of their residence in Pakistan. Alternatively, overseas Pakistanis can also download the registration form from http://www.pakmission.ca/QVOP.pdf and submit it to their respective counsulate in person, through regular mail or through e-mail.

After submitting the form wait for a few days and then check with the Assistant Election Commissioner’s office again to confirm if your name has appeared on the voter list. Once you have confirmed your registration, you will be able to vote in the General and Local Government Elections any time.