Time constraint key hurdle to overseas vote: ECP

NADRA to present software for e-voting in SC today.


Our Correspondent April 11, 2013
According to the ECP Secretary, it was the wish of the commission, Supreme Court and others that overseas Pakistanis be able to vote, but there are some procedural issues that need to be resolved. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD:


The Election Commission of Pakistan pointed out multiple hurdles in providing the facility of vote to overseas Pakistanis in the upcoming general elections on Wednesday. 


After the ECP’s meeting on providing voting facilities to overseas Pakistanis, the commission’s Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan briefed the media that there would be difficulties in providing this facility in time for the elections on May 11. Khan added that the time constraint was a major hurdle in providing overseas Pakistanis the opportunity to vote.

According to the ECP Secretary, it was the wish of the commission, Supreme Court and others that overseas Pakistanis be able to vote, but there are some procedural issues that need to be resolved. He added that NADRA had created the software for e-voting which would be presented in the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Earlier this week, the ECP took an unexpected turn when it opposed an online voting system for overseas Pakistanis, terming it “expensive, time-consuming, and impractical”. In its report submitted to the Supreme Court this week, the ECP contended that facilitating eligible overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in the upcoming general elections was not advisable.

The report emphasised that any decision taken in haste has the potential to create unforeseen problems and seriously damage the credibility of the upcoming elections, both within the country and abroad.

Quoting the unanimous decision of a committee comprising officials from ECP, NADRA and the IT ministry, the commission stated that allowing overseas Pakistanis to vote through an uncertified computer system could be “disastrous” for the electoral process.

The Supreme Court had earlier directed the secretaries of law and justice, information technology, foreign affairs, the ministry of overseas Pakistanis and the ECP, as well as the chairman NADRA to undertake coordinated efforts for devising a mechanism which would enable overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in the coming polls.

A representative of the ECP told The Express Tribune that NADRA’s software was imperfect, “If we exercise this option then as per the ‘one minute one vote’ facility only 6,000 overseas Pakistanis will be able to cast their vote,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2013.

COMMENTS (12)

Usman Javaid | 8 years ago | Reply

What the ECP can do instead of evoting or ballot papers sent abroad, is proxy voting like it happens in UK. This can work for the expats without too much difficulty. I dont know the finer details but its much more easier than the other 2 options considered.

MG | 8 years ago | Reply

The very fact that ECP is debating giving Pakistani citizens (abroad) the right to vote or not, is undemocratic, unlawful and unconstitutional. Or at least it would be if we were indeed a real democracy. This unabashed and public squashing of a fundamental democratic process is ridiculous and shameful, to say the least. To downgrade fundamental rights because of perceived "costs" and the "unknown issues" that may arise is insulting. (Even thought the cost would not be high at all) using cost as an excuse stinks of pre-election rigging.

As for the perception that only PTI would benefit if overseas Pakistanis are allowed to vote - welcome to democracy. It is not about our individual likes and dislikes or desires - it's about the will of the people. If PTI is the only party that benefits (highly unlikely) - then accept it as what it is.

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