In the recent news, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has cleared that the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and i-Voting are not achievable in the next general election if held in October this year. As per reports, the ECP, despite revisions to the Elections Act, 2017, which were approved in the joint session of the parliament in November last year, is not ready to adopt the technology of EVMs and i-Voting due to various reasons.
EVMs and i-Voting Require Repeated Pilot Projects, Trials, and Tests Before Being Adopted
One of the core reasons is the shortage of time to conclude the time-consuming selection procedure of the EVMs and i-Voting technology. “The EVMs require repeated pilot projects, trials, and tests before being adopted. The process, even if expedited, can at least take four to five months,” an ECP official privy to the matter said.
He added that the purchase of the EVMs and i-Voting devices through internal/international tendering may take up to six months as these technological devices are not available in bulk, i.e., 700,000-800,000, as needed by the ECP, nor they could be acquired straight away from the international markets. Once the procurement procedure is completed, the next step is to earn the confidence of the public, political parties, and other stakeholders in the technology shift.
More than half of Pakistan’s Over 220 Million Population is Eligible for Voting
“More than half of Pakistan’s over 220 million population is eligible for voting and switching to the new technology would not be easy,” he said, cautioning that Pakistan could not afford controversy in elections. The official stated that awareness campaigns of the groups and training of polling staff would be needed to guarantee smooth elections. Despite all hindrances, Chief Election Commissioner, Sikandar Sultan Raja, has voiced resolve to
continue related measures to increase the use of technology in elections.
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