Pakistan should not move to electronic voting system before 2023: UN expert

Published: February 11, 2016
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Advises country to try out EVMs until 2023. PHOTO: AFP

Advises country to try out EVMs until 2023. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

A leading United Nations expert on electoral technology has advised Pakistan’s top polls supervisory body against completely moving to an electronic voting system before 2023.

Ronan McDermott was speaking on ‘Use of Technology in Elections’ — with particular focus on electronic voting machines (EVMs) and biometrics — jointly organised by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the United Nations Development Programme.

Members of the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms attended the session, during which the UN expert presented a global view of the merits and demerits of the main electoral technologies, and shared comparative experience on their adoption.

Electoral reforms: ECP told to buy electronic voting machines by September

“My experience in election management in Pakistan and other countries leads me to recommend that Pakistan pilot a variety of EVMs over 2017 and in some 2018 general elections polling stations to determine which technology is most appropriate,” said McDermott.

Subject to successful pilots — and stakeholder acceptance — the ECP should gradually scale up the EVMs with a target date for full national rollout not earlier than 2023, he added.

On results technology, the specialist recommended that the result management system be given a solid legal framework and be used in all by-elections between now and 2018. “Transparent result management contributes to the ECP’s credibility. Trust is more important than technology itself.”

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza outlined how the ECP, in consultation with the parliamentary sub-committee on electoral reforms, had piloted a range of innovative initiatives such as mobile results transmission, biometric voter identification and a geographic information system-enabled polling scheme.

The myth around electronic voting machines

“Before committing to a large technology purchase,” the CEC noted, “the ECP would carefully review its appropriateness to the context of Pakistan, and would also test it extensively in the field.”

Nadra blocks CNICs

The country’s top citizen registration body told a parliamentary panel that it had blocked 136,000 identity cards because of wrong information provided by the card holders.

During an in-camera session of a parliamentary sub-committee on electoral reforms, National Database & Registration Authority (Nadra) officials said they had also identified 15,247 people who had more than one computerised national identity card (CNIC).

The registration body is in the process of verifying another 9,000 CNICs with possibly wrong credentials, and is also investigating 72,000 CNICs issued to foreign nationals during the past few years.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th,  2016.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Asim Ali
    Feb 11, 2016 - 12:23PM

    The worthy UN expert should take his advice and implement it in Africa. The countrys mobile sector has successfully deployed biometric devices across the country and the mobile industry has successfully verified 100 million + subscribers with this system with the NADRA database. The country is digitally ready to have voting system in place even today, yet it is these experts and their followers in the media who want to take this country back to the 12th century Recommend

  • Sharath Chandra
    Feb 11, 2016 - 12:59PM

    Electronic voting machines are meant for mature, effective & sincere democracies.Recommend

  • HM
    Feb 11, 2016 - 1:03PM

    They don’t want Pakistan to use EVS but in India where 50 crore people live below poverty line and about double figures in illiteracy they still use this technology and no one objects. Actually UN don’t want to ensure free and fair elections in Pakistan because it also suits them in many aspects.Recommend

  • Dk
    Feb 11, 2016 - 2:03PM

    @HM:
    I think you need to clear your knowledge tegarding illiteracy in india. Share some proof of your claim and gor your kind information india’s literacy rate is 74% till 2011 and pak is 58%. http://tribune.com.pk/story/897995/education-woes-pakistan-misses-un-target-with-58-literacy-rate/.

    First see your literacy rate yhen talk about others. And we have potential to use EVM so we are uaing it.Recommend

  • Dheeraj
    Feb 11, 2016 - 2:15PM

    @HM:
    I think you need to clear your knowledge tegarding illiteracy in india. Share some proof of your claim and gor your kind information india’s literacy rate is 74% till 2011 and pak is 58%. http://tribune.com.pk/story/897995/education-woes-pakistan-misses-un-target-with-58-literacy-rate/.

    First see your literacy rate yhen talk about others. And we have potential to use EVM so we are uaing it.Recommend

  • Shakil Ahmed Khan
    Feb 11, 2016 - 3:09PM

    UN expert in Elections? wow!
    by this pace you will never have Electronic Voting and thugs will keep ruling us!Recommend

  • Feb 11, 2016 - 3:11PM

    UN is also up to ‘ public hoodwinking.’ So, the inept courts, lazy LEAs and wayward politicians can mess the country around even more. Salams Recommend

  • Hassan
    Feb 11, 2016 - 3:57PM

    @Dheeraj:
    @Dk: True, India has a higher literacy rate as compared to Pakistan, and its commendable too, i don’t know why HM quoted India here. anyways there is not much difference although there is but the point is electronic voting should be adopted else corrupt politicians will keep holding the key positions and true representation of the people will not be possible.Recommend

  • Nauman
    Feb 11, 2016 - 4:18PM

    @Sharath Chandra : can you please back up your comment by sharing the logic you have in mind?Recommend

  • Hatim
    Feb 11, 2016 - 7:15PM

    It suits the UN to maintain the status quo on Pakistan. Recommend

  • John B
    Feb 11, 2016 - 8:20PM

    EVM must be field tested for sometime when they are introduced. All elections get legitimacy only if the people trust the system. Educational campaign about the EVM, Acceptance among public, introduction in select precincts and switching them once satisfied by the ECP. The great experiment went on in India and I am sure ECP and ECI shared their experiences. Unless ECP has absolute supremacy in the conduct of elections as in India, EVM can be percieved as cheating tool by the public. I am sure ECP is doing its best. Recommend

  • doom
    Feb 11, 2016 - 9:12PM

    This is all perfectly reasonable. Of course you should test it out in the next election in pilots, so that any issues can be sorted before going full scale. I would hope no one was actually thinking of abruptly switching over completely.Recommend

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