The Election Commission of Pakistan has a specific criteria for the things needed to consider a vote valid. However, your vote does not necessarily have to be wasted if you find out there is an issue with it before you cast it.
According to ECP’s rules, votes will be considered invalid if
- There is no official mark on the voter
- There is no signature of presiding officer
- There is any mark other than stamp or official signature of Presiding Officer
- A piece of paper is attached to the ballot paper
- there is no stamp on the ballot paper
- There are two boxes stamped by voter
- A single stamp is divided equally between two boxes
- Ballot paper is damaged or torn
If you find that there is something wrong with the ballot paper or you have damaged it or stamped it incorrectly, your election day is not over.
The Election Laws of 2017 have a special provision in case ballot papers are invalid when handed over to a voter or are inadvertently made invalid by the voter.
According to Section 115: “A voter who has inadvertently spoiled his ballot paper so that it cannot be used may, after satisfying the Returning Officer about the fact of inadvertence, return the ballot paper to the Returning Officer who shall issue another ballot paper after canceling the Spoilt Ballot Paper.”
Therefore, if you spot that your ballot does not have the Presiding Officer’s stamp or signature, you can ask for a new one.
You can also ask for a new ballot paper if you accidentally stamp it incorrectly or if you tear it up by accident.
However, the Returning Officer will only give you a new ballot if you satisfy them that whatever happened to the ballot was ‘inadvertent’.
The Presiding Officer will take the spoilt ballot and label it ‘cancelled’. He will also mention the cancellation on the counterfoil. The spoilt votes are added to a special bag that is kept away from the count, so the voter can rest easy that their will has not been represented.