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Saturday, March 02, 2024  
20 Shaban 1445  

The story behind the ‘Form-45’ website

Perhaps you have already heard about a freshly launched website with the domain name form45.com. If you haven’t, it...
A screenshot of website Form45.com
A screenshot of website Form45.com

Perhaps you have already heard about a freshly launched website with the domain name form45.com. If you haven’t, it is a website that has uploaded Form-45s purportedly released by presiding officers of various constituencies after the election in Pakistan on February 8.

A Form-45 contains the vote count of an individual polling station after the election. It is issued by the presiding officer with their signatures and stamp. Presiding officers from all the polling stations in a constituency then send the form to the Returning Officer (RO) of the constituency who compiles the data and issues a Form-47 which shows how many votes each of the candidates secured. The candidate with the highest votes is declared the winner by the ECP.

PTI leaders have claimed that when they collected Form-45s from various polling stations and compiled the data themselves, they found that PTI-backed candidates had won at least 155 of the 264 National Assembly constituencies that went to polls. However, ECP-issued Form-47s put the number of PTI-backed independent candidates to have won at 92.

PTI now wants an independent recount of the Form-45s but there is a twist. There are now two versions of Form-45s in almost every constituency: The one with the PTI-backed candidates and the other with the candidates who have won the seats according to ECP.

PMLN social media teams have claimed that PTI has forged Form-45s.

Notwithstanding the claims and counterclaims, hundreds of Form-45 have made it to this website. It comes as the demands for investigation of alleged election fraud were heard at a State Department briefing where reporters said the media in Pakistan had “seen 100 percent of the returns” but the courts were not ready to hear the complaints.

Who is behind Form45.com

The website faced difficulties shortly after its launch on Monday. Contrary to some claims on social media, it has not been banned or restricted in Pakistan as of Tuesday noon. The website remains accessible through Ufone mobile data services as well.

However, the website says it is “under attack from various countries.”

Shortly after the launch on Monday, the website experienced a 500 error, which is an internal server error. It means the server has run out of capacity to handle requests. Internal server error could be caused by a large number of genuine users trying to access the website but mostly it is caused by malicious Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, which mimic a large number of access requests.

Domain name registration details show that the website was registered on February 10 — two days after the polling — by someone from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík.

The domain name registrar has kept further details about the domain owner private on their request.

The website is currently using Cloudflare services, probably to ward off the DOS attacks.

Apparently, it signed up for Cloudflare on Monday evening after experiencing difficulties.

Relatively small data set

Although the website claims that it will upload more data, Form45.com does not offer copies of Form-45 for a large number of constituencies.

It has so far listed almost a dozen National Assembly constituencies where it claimed PTI-backed candidates were the “actual winners”.

From Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly it listed only one constituency and the Sindh Assembly only two.

Scanned images of Form-45 have been made available only for a few constituencies.

The website says, “Many candidates are currently in hiding, lack access to technology, and are unable to share their forms with the public.”

It also says, “Several candidates are peacefully protesting outside the RO offices while waiting for the issuance of their Form 45. Despite the passage of 48 hours, the ROs continue to refuse to provide the required forms.”

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