Pakistani E-Voting Machine Is Getting New Capabilities

The PM received a detailed description and a demonstration of Pakistan’s first locally-produced electronic voting machine (EVM) on Thursday.

Pakistani E-Voting Machine Is Getting New Capabilities

Following the briefing at the Prime Minister House, federal Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz announced that the new machine had been created with Pakistani indigenous resources and in accordance with the Election Commission of Pakistan’s requirements.

Mr Faraz said that the machine had been developed keeping in mind the ground realities and in accordance with the specifications of the ECP, which had previously rejected the use of EVMs on technical grounds.

The CMN stated that the new EVM was easy to use and understand for voters, poll workers, and auditors, as well as free of any potential rigging since it lacked an operating system and was not connected to the internet. He went on to claim that the new EVM would provide full data from all voted ballots during an audit in case of a contested election.

The gadget is designed to conform with ECP standards, according to the minister.

The minister said he would inform the opposition parties and members of Parliament about the new EVM within a few days, and expressed hope that after his talk, most of the opposition’s issues will vanish. He stated that a demonstration of the machine would be given for journalists and ECP officials in the future.

Minister Dr. Kamil Faraz praised his ministry’s engineers and other specialists and officials for completing the task on time, remarking that the prime minister had instructed them to build the machine in 12 weeks.

He described how the ECP had turned down the idea of utilizing EVMs after seeing a machine designed in 2014. He claimed that the previous machine was merely able to meet 20% of the ECP’s expectations, whereas the new one was 98% accurate in line with those standards.

The National University for Science and Technology, Comsats, and the National Institute of Engineering (NIE) are all working on similar machines. The three organizations have the potential to produce 2,000 devices for around Rs65,000 each, which is far less than the imported versions with no warranties.

In a recent news conference, Mr Faraz mentioned that a unique paper would be utilized on which the ink would not fade or dull for five years.

“Counting of votes would be a simple push of a button away, and it could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to complete.”

In a related development, National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Chairman Tariq Malik provided a briefing to President Dr Arif Alvi on how technology can be used to allow overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes from anywhere in the world using i-voting.

Azam Swati, the Railways Minister, and Muhammad Sohail Rajput, the Ministry of Information Technology’s secretary, also attended.

At a meeting of the sub-committee of the cabinet on EVMs, chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan, in Wednesday’s session, the Nadra chairman suggested making a substantial change in i-voting procedures to empower and enable voters to verify their votes were included in the ultimate tally.

While the ECP was in the process of developing a new system for election verification, Dr. Mufti said that “elections are not free and fair unless they are verifiable.” The Nadra boss claimed he had also presented the ECP with the new technology, stating that it had been approved by the commission.

The decision to allow foreign citizens to cast their ballots using electronic voting machines (EVM) was first taken by the PTI in 2013, and it has been fighting for the cause ever since. The issues raised by the PTI members on several occasions during parliamentary committee on electoral reforms under then finance minister Ishaq Dar had remained unresolved.

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