ISLAMABAD: In a major change in attitude, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Tuesday moved towards implementing the recently passed electoral reforms law to help use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
The ECP formed three committees to calculate the expenditure of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and amend the existing rules and regulations for using them in line with a law enacted by a joint sitting of parliament.
The first body is EVMs and Overseas Voting Technical Committee and is tasked to oversee the use of EVMs and voting of overseas Pakistanis will be headed by the ECP secretary.
The committee’s mandate will be to make recommendations on technologies in the electoral process and to identify international best practices.
It will report on the voting procedure for overseas Pakistanis. The second committee on the expenditure on EVMs, headed by the ECP additional secretary (admin), will present to the commission a report on the fund that would be spent on the machines and e-voting system.
The body will also run the pilot testing of the machines and the mechanism for their use.
The committee will make recommendations on the project’s implementation, budget requirements, and storage of machines. Its recommendations will be communicated to the government so that safe storage could be arranged on a short- and long-term basis.
The ECP said it had proposed a location in Islamabad’s H-11/4 to the planning commission where the storage area could be arranged.
A third committee, headed by the commission’s director general of law, has been set up to make suggestions and recommendations for amendments to the existing laws and rules.
On November 17, the government had succeeded in having 33 bills bulldozed from the joint sitting of parliament despite facing resistance from the opposition.
They included the bill on EVMs and e-voting for overseas Pakistanis. On Thursday, the ECP had appeared uncertain whether or not the EVMs could be used in the coming general elections.
During a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice the ECP secretary was bombarded with questions regarding the use of EVMs.
During the meeting, chaired by Riaz Fatyana, treasury lawmakers had insisted on the use of the EVMs, while the opposition members supported the ECP’s point of view.
The members had raised questions as to how the people of Balochistan would use EVMs to cast their votes in areas where there was no internet.
They also asked where EVMs would be kept. Some members even posed the question to the ECP as to who would be blamed for any possible tampering with votes afterwards.
The ECP secretary had told the committee that there were challenges in the use of EVMs, adding that it would be premature to say whether the machines could be used in the next general election. He told the lawmakers that the ECP was working on the concerns regarding Balochistan.