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E-voting for future elections

May 30, 2013

A democratic society is built upon solid foundations of people’s free will. That free will is hard to quantify in a population that is divided in numerous ethnicities, besides being grouped into different factions orchestrated by powerful landlords and family mafias.

Unfortunately, the majority of Pakistan’s population is still not educated enough to exercise their free will.

However, the elections have set a remarkable precedence for a bright and truly democratic future for our beloved country.

The elections have acted as a catalyst to spin up an inevitable clash between the old-fashioned political mafia and the progressive part of Pakistani society. It seems that the days of traditional politics are over and the country is moving towards a truly democratic future based on people’s free will.

However, free will is truly exercised in an educated and balanced society having sufficient anti-corruption machinery which, unfortunately, seems a far cry.

In order to offset this deficiency, a workable solution is to introduce e-voting integrating Nadra database having closed-circuit TV acting as surveillance at all polling stations across the country in future elections.

To thwart the remaining threat of manipulative and extortionist mafia shepherding the innocent population, the security forces should be integrated to provide an atmosphere where people can participate without fear of being targeted in case they opt against the will of their manipulators.

Electoral bodies around the world have increasingly begun to use electronic voting (e-voting) technologies owing to inherent transparency of the system.

Some of the advantages of e-voting are: automated candidate nomination, acceptance and platform harvesting, automated voter registration or bulk account generation, secure and transparent online voting when appropriate, transparent audit and online vote verification.

We can also have auto sign-in link option with integrated bulk email manager, send reminder emails to those people who have not yet voted in selected polls, accept candidate write-ins with ease and count write-in votes automatically.

Through e-voting, we can also control under-votes and over-votes automatically, create separate polls for different groups with secure partitions, show candidate pictures in the online ballot, use pop-down candidate bios and platforms in the online ballot.

E-voting can also facilitate us in pacing poll links in an online menu page, while we can also see votes counted live, sophisticated auditing and vote verifications tools, multi-language online voting, candidate rotation option -- no candidate disadvantaged by ballot position, browser and email vote receipts, customised ballot appearance, including fonts, logos and banners and data download for independent analysis.

The Election Commission of Pakistan should take the initiative to call experts from the US, UK, France and China, etc., to visit Pakistan and suggest solutions for future e-voting methodology.

Everything comes down to funding. I am sure that the educated Pakistani public will always welcome such a change that brings transparency in the voting system as that directly translates to true democracy.

This would generate adequate funds to push the Pakistani government to chip in its share for the project once it feels the momentum.

One of the important aspects would be to educate the Pakistani public (especially the uneducated communities in rural areas) on the usage of e-voting system. This is a time-consuming process and needs to be started well in advance to spread basic awareness about e-voting.

E-voting is one of the best options to offset the corrupt mafia politics prevalent in Pakistan.