Ministry seeks more time to develop prototype EVM

Published June 3, 2021
The Ministry of Science and Technology has sought more time to produce the prototype Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), saying the exercise is likely to be completed by the third week of next month. — AP/file
The Ministry of Science and Technology has sought more time to produce the prototype Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), saying the exercise is likely to be completed by the third week of next month. — AP/file

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Science and Technology has sought more time to produce the prototype Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), saying the exercise is likely to be completed by the third week of next month.

In a statement issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan on Wednesday after holding meetings for two consecutive days on the use of the technology in the upcoming elections, the ECP said the ministry, which was supposed to demonstrate the EVM during the meetings, stated that it would now be possible after third week of July.

The meeting chaired by Chief Election Commi­ssioner Sikandar Sultan Raja was attended by mem­bers, secretary and senior officials of the ECP.

Spanish firm says Nadra’s internet voting system doesn’t meet international standards

The statement said the commission had already told the ministry that the prototype was to be developed keeping in view the desired technical specifications. The ECP also informed the ministry’s representatives that it intended to start a consultative process soon to take political parties and other stakeholders on board before reaching a final decision on the use of EVM during the elections.

In a separate meeting, the secretary and officials of the science and technology ministry and representatives of a Spanish consultancy firm gave a briefing to the ECP members on the internet voting system of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).

The meeting compared Nadra’s internet voting system with those of France, Estonia and Mexico. It was informed that France had stopped using the internet voting system, while Estonia and Mexico were still using it.

The consultancy firm informed the ECP officials that Nadra’s system fell short of meeting international standards and recommended technological changes to it.

In a related development, CEC Raja has called a meeting next week to deliberate on the report provided to the ECP by the Spanish consultancy firm.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had last month invited the opposition to sit with the government for bringing electoral reforms such as use of EVM in order to restore the credibility of elections.

In a series of tweets, the premier had said that after the NA-249 Karachi by-poll, all parties were “crying foul and claiming rigging”. “Technology and the use of EVMs is the only answer to reclaim the credibility of elections. I invite the opposition to sit with us and select from EVM models we have available to restore the credibility of our elections,” he tweeted. Giving the example of the US presidential election held late last year, the prime minister had said that former president Donald Trump had tried everything to dispute the results.

“But because technology was used in the electoral process, not one irregularity was found. For a year now we have been asking the opposition to cooperate with us and help reform our present electoral system. Our government is determined and we will put in place reforms in our electoral system through the use of technology to bring transparency and credibility to our elections and strengthen our democracy,” he had said.

Days after the premier’s tweets, President Dr Arif Alvi had promulgated a controversial presidential ordinance authorising as well as binding the ECP to procure EVMs and enable overseas Pakis­tanis to exercise their right to vote while staying out of the country in the next general elections.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2021

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