The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has informed the government about its reservations over the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the next general polls. In a meeting held on Saturday, the commission demanded a briefing on the EVMs manufactured by the science and technology. The electoral body also proposed using the EVMs in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir polls on an experimental basis.
Sources said the science and technology ministry had not briefed the ECP on its EVMs. The commission raised the question as to what would be the alternative if the EVMs stopped working during the elections just like results transmission system (RTS) had in the 2018 polls. Advancement in technology could lead to complications in reusing the machines once they have been used. The commission also pointed out the issues of the manufacturing cost of EVMs and their storage and repair after use. It posed the question as to who would build the EVMs and how safe they would be from hackers.
The participants of the meeting were informed that Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Finland and other countries had returned to the ballot papers after their failed experiment with electronic voting machines. It was further noted that the experiment of using EVMs during a by-election in a constituency of Lahore had been unsuccessful. Earlier in the day, PM Imran Khan reiterated that EVMs were the only answer to reclaim the credibility of elections in the country. He again invited the opposition parties to sit with the government and “select from the available EVM models”.
At a recent media briefing, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the government wanted to move forward on the electoral reforms with political consensus and the prime minister had written a letter to the National Assembly speaker to engage the opposition on the matter.