Legal Framework for Senate Election

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Senate in Pakistan is a permanent body not subject to dissolution with six years term for each member. Elections for members of Senate for half of the 104 seats are held after every three years as the process of Senate elections is designed in such a manner that term of half of the members expires after every three years. As per Article 59 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973, Senate has a total of 104 seats with 24 from each of the four provinces, 08 from FATA and 04 from Federal Capital. A tabulated abstract of the composition of Senate is as below;

SEATS FOR SENATE IN PAKISTAN (ARTICLE 59)

 

AREA

CATEGORY

 

TOTAL

General

Women

Technocrats

Minorities

Balochistan

14

04

04

01

23

KPK

14

04

04

01

23

Punjab

14

04

04

01

23

Sindh

14

04

04

01

23

FATA

08

--

--

--

08

Federal Capital

02

01

01

--

04

TOTAL

66

17

17

04

104

The candidate for Senate must be Pakistani citizen, at least 30 years of age and registered voter of the province/area from where he is contesting election besides fulfilling other requirements laid down in Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973. As clear from the names of categories, anyone fulfilling the aforementioned basic requirements can contest from General seat, whereas a Technocrat is required to have a 20 years experience in his field.

Since 2003, elections for Senate are being regularly held after every three years with half of the members of Upper House retiring and replaced by newly elected ones. The current Senate election is planned to be held on 05 March, 2015 as the six year term of office of 52 Senators is going to expire on 11 March, 2015. Of these 52 seats, 11 are to be filled from Punjab and Sindh each, individually having 07 General, 02 Women and 02 Technocrats seats. For Balochistan and KPK, each province has 12 seats with a further split of 07 General, 02 Women, 02 Technocrats and 01 minority seat. The difference of 01 seat between KP & Balochistan, and Sindh & Punjab is because 01 seat for Minorities for each Province was introduced in 18th amendment which was made effective in 2012 Senate elections. Of those 04 Minority Senators, half (02) were to retire though a draw in 2015 and the remaining 02 were to retire after completion of their full six year term. Therefore, under the draw, Minority Senators from KP and Balochistan will be retiring in 2015 for election of new members. In case of FATA, election is to be held for 04 General seats while for Federal Capital, election will be held for 02 seats with a split of 01 General and 01 Woman seats. A tabulated abstract of the Senate seats for which election will be held on 05 March, 2015 is as below;

SEATS FOR WHICH ELECTION IS TO BE HELD ON 05 MARCH, 2015

 

AREA

CATEGORY

 

TOTAL

General

Women

Technocrats

Minorities

Balochistan

07

02

02

01

12

KPK

07

02

02

01

12

Punjab

07

02

02

--

11

Sindh

07

02

02

--

11

FATA

04

--

--

--

04

Federal Capital

01

01

--

--

02

TOTAL

33

09

08

02

52

Senate Elections Procedure

The Electoral College for Senate seats of provinces are the respective Provincial Assembly members and their polling is held at respective Provincial Assemblies under proportional representation on the basis of single transferable vote. For FATA and Federal Capital seats, Electoral College is the National Assembly members from FATA and whole National Assembly members respectively; therefore, their election is held at National Assembly building. The voters (MNAs and MPAs) cast their votes separately for each category (General, Women, Technocrats and Minorities, as the case may be) on separate ballot papers having different colors, except for FATA where there in only one category i.e., General seats. The voters cast their vote by mentioning the priority in serial numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5…..) for each candidate in every category as Proportional Representation by Single Transferable Vote means taking into account voters second and subsequent choices besides the first one. The number of votes required for election as Senator in each category varies for each province, FATA and Federal Capital as the strength of Electoral College varies in each case. e.g., in case of FATA, 04 Senators are to be elected by an Electoral College of 12 MNAs, meaning thereby that at least 03 votes are required by a candidate to be elected as Senator from FATA. Likewise, in case of Federal Capital, for each of the General and Woman seat, 172 votes are required in the 342 member National Assembly. However, the counting becomes complex when some candidate(s) get more than the minimum votes required for election while others get less and in such a case 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. voting priority is also counted. In order to determine the overall impact of all preferences of the voter to a candidate, the total points obtained by a candidate are calculated and a candidate passing a specific threshold of points is declared as elected. If still the seats remain vacant, the votes of the candidates which are surplus from the threshold are transferred to the second priority candidates and those crossing the required threshold after this exercise are also declared elected. Similarly, if still there are some vacant seats, then surplus votes of the winning candidates are transferred to third priority candidates to fill the vacant seats. This process of transferring surplus votes of the winning candidates goes on till all vacant seats in a category are filled.

The system of Proportional Representation by means of Single Transferable vote takes into account voter’s first as well as second and subsequent preferences in the order of preference, indicating as to which candidate his vote should go if the candidate of his first choice is already elected by the votes of other voters or if his first choice secured too few votes to continue the contest. In other words, the surplus votes are redistributed amongst other candidates in accordance with preferences expressed by voters. In this way, the candidates finally elected represent as accurately as possible the choice of the electors.

Vote Counting

As an example, if there are 20 candidates for 14 General Seats in the 124 member KP Provincial Assembly, all valid ballot papers are arranged in separate parcels according to first preferences recorded for each candidate and ballot papers in each parcel are counted (e.g., A has 12 ballots cast in his favor in which he was marked as first preference). Each valid vote is assigned the value of 100. The value of votes credited to each candidate is obtained by multiplying the number of ballot papers for that candidate by 100 as shown hereunder:

Candidates                 Votes               Value added votes

  A                     =        12                    12 x 100= 1200

B                     =          8                      8 x 100= 800

C                     =          6                      6 x 100= 600

D                     =          9                      9 x 100= 900

E                      =          8                      8 x 100= 800

F                      =          7                      7 x 100= 700

G                     =          4                      4 x 100= 400

H                     =        10                    10 x 100= 1000

I                       =          5                      5 x 100= 500

J                       =          5                      5 x 100= 500

  K                     =        11                    11 x 100= 1100

L                      =          8                      8 x 100= 800

M                     =          5                      5 x 100= 500

N                     =          6                      6 x 100= 600

O                     =          4                      4 x 100= 400

P                      =          5                      5 x 100= 500

Q                     =          4                      4 x 100= 400

R                     =          2                      2 x 100= 200

S                      =          3                      3 x 100= 300

T                      =          2                      2 x 100= 200

         Total          =        124                124 x 100= 12400 

The next step is Quota determination which is the minimum threshold of score or points to get elected. It is worked out by following formula;

Number of votes x 100+ 1 / Number of seats + 1 = 827 (fractions are ignored)

            Any candidate obtaining 827 points will be declared elected, however, it is unlikely that all the 14 candidates will obtain the required Quota in first count. Instead, some candidates may get the Quota (points) over and above their required threshold of 827. In this case, in first round of calculation, only 04 candidates (A with 1200, K with 1100, H with 1000 and D with 900) will be declared elected for obtaining votes more than the required Quota of 827.

In the next round of counting, surplus Quota of highest vote seeker (A in this case) will bedistributed among other candidates in proportion to the number of second preferences recorded on all the ballot papers of A. The surplus Quota of A for transfer will be determined by subtracting Quota required from Quota obtained (1200-827=373). Now exhausted votes of A (the one having no second or subsequent preference) will be excluded which we suppose is 01 in this case, ending up with 11 transferable votes. The value of each transferable ballot paper is determined by dividing the number of transferable votes by number of transferable ballots (373/11 = 33.9 = 33 as fraction is ignored). This value (33) is multiplied by the number of next preferences recorded for each candidate as marked on the 11 transferable votes to arrive at their individual share from the surplus. Assuming that on 11 transferable ballots or papers of A, next preference for candidates is as under;

B is marked as next available preference on ……….   3 papers

E is marked as next available preference on ……….   2 papers

F is marked as next available preference on ……….   1 paper

G is marked as next available preference on ……….   5 papers

Accordingly, the transfer value of 33 is multiplied by the number of preferences of each second preference candidate leading to following;

B=33x3=99 (i.e. 3 ballot papers at the value of 33)

E=33x2=66 (i.e. 2 ballot papers at the value of 33)

F=33x1=33 (i.e. 1 ballot papers at the value of 33)

G=33x5=165 (i.e. 5 ballot papers at the value of 33)

These values are then added to the originally obtained Quota of B, E, F and G (B=800+99=899, E=800+66=866, F=700+33=733, G=400+165=565). Resultantly, B and E will get elected as their Quota now exceeds the threshold of 827 whereas F and G will have additional Quota but will have to see if they can add further Quota in third round to reach the threshold of 827 to get elected. Therefore, after second round, 06 candidates have been elected with still 08 vacant seats.

In order fill the remaining seats, ballot papers of K (having the second largest surplus Quota after A) will be considered whose surplus is 1100-827=273. Suppose K also has 11 transferable votes (01 being exhausted for having no second or subsequent preference), the value of transferable ballot papers will be 273/11=24 (fraction being ignored). Suppose the next preference on 11 ballot papers of K were as under;

F is marked as next available preference on ……….    4 papers

G is marked as next available preference on ……….   6 papers

I is marked as next available preference on ……….     3 papers

Then, transfer value of K’s ballot papers will be as under;

F=24x4=96 (i.e. 4 ballot papers at the value of 24)

G=24x6=144 (i.e. 6 ballot papers at the value of 24)

I=24x1=24 (i.e. 1 ballot papers at the value of 24)

Now adding up these points to the previous round points of these candidates, their Quota will be F=700+33+96=829, G=400+165+144=709 and I=500+24=524. Summing up the third round, only F crossed the required threshold of 827 to get elected and still only 07 seats have been filled with 07 still vacant.

In the next round, the ballots of third highest candidate of fist round i.e., H will be considered and weightage of second preferences on his ballot papers will be calculated similarly. The same exercise will be followed for the next round by considering surplus votes of 4th highest and the last candidate i.e., D who had crossed the threshold in the first round. Even still if the vacant seats have not been filled, then candidate having the highest Quota after the last round of distribution from first round winners (A, K, H and D) will be distributed, which in this case is B. B has 899 points having a surplus of 72 which will be divided by his valid votes to be distributed among his second preference ballots. The same round will then be repeated till all seats are filled.

If as a result of transfer of votes in any count no candidate is elected, or if elected, he has no surplus to be distributed in the next count, the candidate, who has the lowest votes in the poll (in other words who has the least chance of being elected) is excluded and his votes are transferred according to the next preferences. This process of distributing the surplus and excluding the candidates with the lowest votes goes on till the required numbers of candidates are elected. In doing so, the candidate with lowest number of votes or lowest value have to be eliminated from the contest. In this case, R and T have two votes only at the value of 100 each, therefore, lots are drawn to exclude one of them. Suppose R is eliminated, and since they are original votes received as first preference vote, they are transferred at the value of 100 each. Now say in R’s two ballots, the next preference is marked in favor of candidate N, these two ballot papers will go to N at the value of 100 each.

All those ballot papers which do not have next preferences shall stand exhausted and set aside at the value of 30. Now we will transfer the original two votes of T. According to the next preference these two votes go to C at the value of 100 each. Next candidate having the lowest value is S. it has received three votes as first preferences. Of these three ballot papers, one goes to C while others two ballot papers go in favor of I. With this transfer C stands elected after having attained the requisite quota. The result of this transfer has been shown in the result sheet.  Now we will transfer the surplus of C. C has a surplus of 73. The last sub-parcel of C contains only one ballot paper, which was received at the value of 100.