The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has pledged to introduce Electronic Voting Machines in Pakistan for the first time in the 2023 national elections. Just a day before the parliament votes on two controversial bills seeking to amend the elections act, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has raised as many as 37 objections to the introduction of EVMs in Pakistan.
The ECP submitted a document to the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs. It raised objections to EVMs in this document warning that the software is ‘tampering-prone’. “It is nearly impossible to ensure that every machine is honest,” observed the ECP in the document. ECP Special Secretary Zafar Iqbal Hussain and Director General for IT Khizar Aziz, were present in this meeting.
The Electronic Voting Machine is a revolutionary step towards a credible electoral process under the leadership of PM Imran Khan! pic.twitter.com/0bncK2BDmT
— PTI (@PTIofficial) August 5, 2021
The ECP raised objections to the introduction of EVMs on the pretext of arrangements lacking ballot secrecy, capacity, security, chain of custody during transportation. The ECP pointed that, In case of an election dispute, there would be no evidence. It also pointed that introducing the technology in haste would tamper with ” the conduct of free, fair, credible and transparent elections”. The Election Commission also noted that countries like Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, and Finland have already banned the use of EVMs.
Election Commission of Pakistan rejected the use of Electronic Voting Machine raising 37 objections in the report submitted before the Senate Committee. ECP fears the use of EVM could result into rigging and also jeopardises the voter identity. #Pakistan pic.twitter.com/An0lpk85fj
— Farhad Jarral (@FarhadJarralPK) September 7, 2021
Political observers in Pakistan feel that there is enough mistrust between the parties that was visible after there was a delay to announce the results were in the 2018 elections. Major parties like PDM and PPP felt that PTI tried to manipulate the results. The opposition parties have maintained that PTI wants to introduce the EVM reforms to effectively “rig” the elections.
Atif Majeed was in the team that created the first EVMs in Pakistan way back in 2011. Since then, the demand for EVMs has been raised several times. Majeed says that Pakistan would require 900,000-1,00,0000 EVM modules for the 2023 elections that would cost 45-70 billion rupees. It also would require the Pakistan government to train close to 5 lakh people on how to work with the EVMs. With the next elections scheduled for 2023, it is highly implausible that such developments would take place in just two years’ time.
(With inputs from Dawn and Geo TV)