ISLAMABAD: After facing criticism over the quality of magnetised ink used in last year’s general elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to introduce electronic voting machines in two years and use them in next polls, due in 2018.

Briefing reporters after a demonstration of the machi­nes by about 10 vendors here on Tuesday, ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan said the commission would call for an immediate amendment to the Constitu­tion to remove legal barrier in the way of introducing the technology, after which the pilot project would be launched.

He said the commission had plans to launch the pilot project in six months if parliament made the amendment during the next two months.

Know more: ECP rejects allegations about ballot paper, ink

He said the electronic voting system would help address complications arising from manual balloting. “It will resolve the issues of printing of ballot papers and counting and compilation of results.”

He said the vendors would give a similar demonstration to the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms after which a panel of technical experts at the commission would select the company for deploying the system.

The ECP secretary said each machine was likely to cost about $300. Around 70,000 polling stations were set up in the last elections and most of them had two booths, thus the commission would have to procure at least 150,000 machines.

A similar exercise was carried out before the 2013 elections and some vendors were shortlisted, but the proposal was dropped because of lack of required legislation.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has also announced the government’s intention to invest in the biometric verification system to address loopholes in the electoral process.

Published in Dawn, October 1st , 2014

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