The science and technology ministry on Tuesday presented a demonstration of its electronic voting machines (EVMs) to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), following which the latter raised its concerns and gave its suggestions on the matter.
The commission approved the hiring of the services of a technical consultant on the EVMs and formed a technical evaluation committee.
The committee will review the EVMs and submit a report to the ECP.
Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja said they supported the use of technology, but wanted a machine that did not sabotage the system.
The government assured the commission to further improve the EVMs. Federal Science and Technology Minister Senator Shibli Faraz said the next general elections would be held in a free and fair manner as it had been decided that the 2023 polls would be held using the EMVs.
According to sources, a practical demonstration on the EVMs was given to the ECP officials along with a video based on the features of the machine developed by the science and technology ministry. The ECP officials were also briefed on the EVMs’ weather compatibility, their waterproof feature and protection against cyber attacks.
Later speaking to reporters, Shibli said Prime Minister Imran Khan had instructed them that the next elections should be held through EVMs even if the results were against the ruling PTI. “Manual elections have not given us anything [so far],” he added. Shibli further said the ECP officials had raised about 75 questions, and the ministry had answered all of them.
"The chief election commissioner also congratulated us on building the machine. Unfortunately, every election in this country is marred by controversy. The parliament will legislate on EVMs.” The federal minister added that timelines would be drawn for the EVMs.
“If the opposition wants to make the elections in the country transparent, let’s negotiate [on the issue]. They should give their suggestions on electronic voting.” He further said he was asking the opposition not to oppose the EVMs without examining them for the sake of criticism and should send their technical experts to review their working.
He added that there was nothing secret in the machine and their only purpose was to bring transparency to the electoral process.
He said the use of technology required the confidence of all stakeholders and voters.
“We are making efforts that the election process should involve more technology and reduce human interference.”
According to the minister, a model machine had been prepared for the demonstration and the government would accept the ECP decision.
“The ECP is a constitutional institution and the government cannot dictate it.”
Speaking on the occasion, the chief election commissioner said the ECP was, in principle, in favour of using technology for the polls.
“However, it is important to review all aspects of the use of technology and keep ground realities in mind,” he added.
“The ECP believes in transparency in elections.”
(With input from APP)
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