EVMs to ensure ‘vote transparency’

Former FAFEN secretary general says machines to reduce polling officers’ role in election process by 99%


Our Correspondent November 21, 2021
Photo: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD:

Former secretary general of the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) Sarwar Bari said on Saturday the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) would help ensure transparency in the elections and almost eliminate the involvement of polling officers (POs) in the election process.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Bari, also the National Coordinator of the Patan Development Organisation, raised questions about the transparency of traditional election process in the country and the performance of Fafan.

“About 99% involvement of POs in the election process after the introduction of EVMs will come to an end and the chances of rigging will be eliminated to a great extent as compared to the old election process,” he said.

He said the EVMs would minimise the role of humans in the election process. “Now, it will be done through the machines,” he said, adding that the use of EVMs was a part of the strategic plan 2019-23 of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) but no development had been made in that regard.

The former Fafan founding member said that 2013 polls were marred by massive irregularities. Many Form 14s were on the plain paper and many forms contained counting errors. Form 14 of the polling stations in some 266 constituencies were obtained from the ECP which contained fictitious figures.

He also questioned Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability (TDEA) for spending funds on ECP employees and their families, adding the TDEA without approval of the board had spent funds on traveling and accommodation of ECP employees and family members.

Read: Imran sees EVMs as panacea to all poll ills

Sarwar Bari said as a result of investigation into the 2013 elections, it had come to Fafen’s notice that the TDEA committed forgery in the forms of a number of constituencies. He added that the TDEA had brought the credible election observation group Fafen to the brink of disaster.

He said that alleged manipulation of Fafen's reports by the TDEA led to the resignation of some of the Fafen’s information technology experts and researchers at various stages, while some were bribed to remain silent.

Bari said that election observers should also have observers. There is no one to check the accuracy of the data of the observers. He called for investigating the TDEA. If Fafan was not separated from TDEA, its reputation would be severely damaged, he claimed.

Meanwhile, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said in a tweet that former Fafen chief had levelled serious allegations, adding that he had directed the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to initiate investigation into them and initiate legal action.

Fafen denied Bari’s allegations, and said that it welcomed all kinds of scrutiny, inquiries and audits. It said that the allegations were meant to tarnish Fafen’s image. It added that Bari was removed from Fafen for failing to provide evidence of the allegations.

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