The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) asked the government on Thursday to provide it with funds and necessary infrastructure for the purchase of around 800,000 electronic voting machines (EVM) and the place for their storage before their use in the next general elections.
The ECP wrote a letter to the government regarding the “use of modern technologies” in the next general elections, which it said would likely be held in October 2023. It said that ECP had to take important steps regarding the use of modern technology in the election in just 23 months.
The letter, signed by ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan and addressed to the Parliamentary Affairs Secretary Shakeel Malik, asked the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry to take up the matter with the authorities concerned.
A joint parliamentary session on November 17 had passed amendments to the Section 94 and Section 103 of the Elections Act, 2017, enabling the ECP to give a mode of voting to overseas Pakistanis and use the EVM in the country in general elections.
The letter said that the ECP would purchase more than 800,000 EVMS for the next general election, adding that it required a warehouse over 3 acres of land for the storage of these machines, besides a building for data centre, control centre, modern lab, printing and training sessions.
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The ECP letter explained that its tasks included selection of appropriate technology with suitable specifications as per Pakistani environment; development of a voting system along with physical infrastructure to house the technological systems.
The letter draws attention of the ministry towards the ECP’s immediate requirement of funds for the construction of a customised building in the Sector H-11 of Islamabad. “The PC-II for feasibility study and design has already been approved by DDWP [Department Development Working Party],” it said.
It added that the scheme was submitted to the Planning Commission last year but unfortunately no funds were provided. “Since then, a lot of time has been lost due to delay in funding for ECP's critical infrastructural projects,” it added.
“The Planning Commission may be asked to allocate funds, which includes full funding for PC-II (approved) and block allocation for PC-I for construction of customised building in H-11,” it said, adding that the Housing and Works Ministry may also be directed to take up the matter immediately.
“In case this building is constructed in time, ECP shall be able to use the space for storage of Electronic Voting Machines and in-house Data Center and Control Center. The building will be dedicated to EVM, Overseas Voting, printing, training facilities and sophisticated labs for the new system,” it added.
However, in case the building in H-11 was not completed in time, the letter called for allocation of two floors space in Kohsar Block (Pakistan Secretariat) as stopgap arrangements in order to avoid any hiccups regarding storage of the EVMs.
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