ECP says it cannot give final opinion on electronic voting

Published November 18, 2014
About 270,000 EVMs would be required for a general election and each would cost between Rs60,000 and Rs70,000. 
- AFP/file
About 270,000 EVMs would be required for a general election and each would cost between Rs60,000 and Rs70,000. - AFP/file

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan told the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms on Monday that in the absence of a permanent Chief Election Commissioner it cannot give a final opinion on whether the electronic voting machines (EVMs) should be used or not to make the electoral process transparent in future.

Briefing reporters after a meeting of the sub-committee of the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms, its convener Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid said the meeting had been informed that the use of EVMs would not alone ensure a perfect and transparent election.

He said about 270,000 EVMs would be required for a general election and each would cost between Rs60,000 and Rs70,000.

He was of the opinion that billions should not be spent on an imperfect system, but said the committee would not make a decision till it received the ECP’s recommendation.


ECP tells Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms that permanent Chief Election ommissioner’s presence was needed to decide the matter


Mr Hamid said the committee was told that the EVM would not ensure 100 per cent transparency in the election and the system was vulnerable to hacking.

Live demonstration of EVM and biometric devices manufactured by a UK-based company and two local institutions was made before the meeting.

One participant of the meeting told Dawn that vendors had failed to satisfy the committee on how the EVMs would make the electoral process transparent. The vendors claimed that the EVM could not be hacked, but when members of the committee asked some questions they conceded that the machine was prone to tampering.

“These are sitting ducks and cannot defend themselves,” a vendor was quoted as saying.

The vendors said the machines could be cheated and their honest use depended on the integrity of users.

When Mr Hamid asked what would happen if someone put adhesive in the button that was to be pressed for voting, the vendors had no satisfactory answer.

One of them said that hands of the voter would be checked. The meeting, however, noted that it was practically impossible in a country where people managed to take mobile phones into the polling booth. A vendor said the SIM card of a machine should be removed in case it was forcibly taken away.

Asked what would happen if a machine went out of order, the vendor said it had to be replaced, meaning thousands of extra machines would be needed for back-up support.

The minister said that the committee had completed clause-by-clause review of the Political Parties Order 2002 and recommendations to amend the clauses related to registration of political parties, intra-party elections and the code of conduct.

Published in Dawn, November 18th , 2014

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