LAHORE: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is all set to test Biometric Voter Verification Machines in the NA-120 by-election and says all 44 candidates in the fray have been taken on board to conduct the experiment.

The exercise will not impact the vote count. The BVMs will be used as a pilot project without slowing down the voting process as these machines have capability to verify each voter within 15 to 18 seconds and that the voters will be asked for biometric verification at selected polling stations only after casting their votes, the ECP assured the contestants.

Each machine costs Rs77,000 only and is a state-of-the-art product with a Hardware Security Module and sensors to protect the data received from Nadra.

A press release issued here on Friday said the electoral top watchdog arranged a session to train the NA-120 polling staff about the use of BVMs.

An ECP spokesperson says the trained staff has been deputed at 39 out of 220 polling stations of NA-120 where 100 biometric machines would be used for the polling process. The staff will also apprise the voters of the use of these machines.

The success of the pilot project will pave the way for gradual use of the BVMs for voting in the general elections in the years to come, the spokesperson adds, hoping the new technology will help make the polling process more transparent and do away with rigging charges.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2017