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Tuesday November 30, 2021

Electronic voting machine installed in parliament

May 20, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain Wednesday said that all the 36 conditions put by the Election Commission of Pakistan had been incorporated in the electronic voting machines to meet the required criteria. He observed this while giving a demonstration of the EVMs before the parliamentary reporters here at the Parliament House a week after empowering the Election Commission to use the EVMs. The demonstration was led by Fawad, Adviser to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan, Senator Faisal Javed and the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South representative Nasir Malik.

Talking to media, Fawad said initially the demonstration was given to the parliamentary reporters; however, he added the members of National Press Club and bar associations would also be briefed on the working of the EVMs. Moreover, he added the opposition parties would also be sensitized about the functioning of EVMs and their feedback would be welcome. He invited the opposition parties to come forward and play their due role in finalizing the electoral reforms for which the government had been striving since it came to power. To a question, the information minister said the government had suggested 49 amendments in the Elections Act, 2017 to ensure transparency.

The minister explained that a prototype of the EVM had been installed at the Parliament House so all the legislators could get acquainted with the machine, urging the parliamentarians to give their valuable suggestions for its improvement.

He said the ECP had given 36 conditions for the EVM when its manufacturing was initiated a few years back to meet the given criteria. He spoke highly of the scientists, engineers and institutions that worked to incorporate all the 36 conditions for the EVMs and pointed out that an EVM was as easy as a mobile phone and it would help ensure transparency and compile election results on a fast-track basis as the delay in vote count always cast doubts on its authenticity.

Fawad said it was the habit of some political parties to level allegations of rigging after defeat in the elections, which was also evident from the recent by-polls held in various constituencies, including Karachi’s (NA-249) where both the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and People’s Party, questioned its transparency. “The biggest issue is that the election result takes longer time to compile, but this machine will help produce the results within [some] minutes,” he maintained.

PM's Adviser Babar Awan said through EVM, a neighboring country, which was five-time bigger than Pakistan, had made its election process ‘acceptable’ to all, but lamented that in Pakistan the defeated parties level rigging allegations that should now come to an end.

The adviser emphasized, “The next general elections are due in around two-and-a-quarter years. Basically, there were five EVMs of different types, out of which two were imported and three others are being worked out at different places in Pakistan. The EVMs will also be finalized by the ECP,” he noted. Awan said an EVM would be available at each polling booth, while there would also be standby machines as well. “We invite the opposition parties including Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leader, Shahbaz Sharif and Pakistan People's Party leader, Yousuf Raza Gilani to come forward and review the models, which would help reform the election system." Awan said the overseas Pakistanis are happy over getting an opportunity to cast their votes in elections.

On this occasion, a COMSATS expert explained there were two steps for casting the vote through the EVM, including verification of voter by CNIC number or thumb impression to ensure validity, after which a voter would go to a specified area and select a candidate of his choice by pressing a button. Following this, he said a record would be maintained automatically at the back-end and a print of the vote cast would also come out and drop in the ballot box. The whole process would take 30 seconds. Later, the expert gave a demonstration by casting his vote through the EVM. He said soon after the completion of the voting process, the presiding officer would press a button and get a print of the overall result.

Fawad said the voting and result record would be maintained as both hard and soft copies, removing any chance of manipulating the record and results. Answering a question, he said internet connection was not needed to operate the EVMs and that presiding officers would communicate the results of their respective polling stations using different means like Whatsapp to the relevant authorities.

He elaborated that the voters list, as per the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) record, of a polling station would be fed to the EVMs, so there is be no need of internet connectivity. “The battery-run EVM is not an internet based gadget. It is 100 percent standalone machine and even they are not interconnected,” he noted.