The election to the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) on June 8, 2015 witnessed an impressive turnout of voters in a peaceful and well-managed polling process. However, the vote counting and result consolidation processes were not accessible to independent observers. Gilgit-Baltistan Policy Institute (GBPI) in partnership with Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) carried out election observations in 65% polling stations of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) during GBLA Election 2015. FAFEN trained 24 constituency coordinators of GBPI and 192 Election Day Observers to observe the election process in more than 700 out of 1,151 polling stations in GB.
Despite an efficient accreditation process by the Election Commission of Gilgit-Baltistan (ECGB), the principles of electoral transparency appeared not to have been shared with the government and security officials, who obstructed observers – particularly of the results consolidation process.
As many as 30 observers were obstructed either by the polling officials or by security personnel deployed at the polling stations. Due to the heavy presence of army personnel and police officials inside and outside polling stations, the observers faced difficulties entering the polling stations. The security officials did not allow observers to observe the polling and counting process at 22 polling stations, while election officials barred the observers at another five polling stations.
The Election Day Observers were trained on technical aspects of the voting and counting process. Each observer was required to observe at least 4 to 5 polling stations to ensure optimum outreach and in-depth assessment of the quality of the electoral process. The observers were trained to fill out standardized checklists based on laws and rules to optimize objectivity and ensure uniformity of observations. The preliminary findings are based on initial reports obtained from 159 polling stations in 20 constituencies.