EC to bring in electronic voting machines

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission has decided to introduce Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and plans to conduct a pilot project during local government polls expected next year.

Sources in the Election Commission said on Saturday that a committee tasked to assess merits and demerits of EVMs had found the use of the technology in the country feasible. The committee considered technical, operational, financial and legal aspects of the use of EVMs before reaching the decision.

The sources said that the feasibility report on the use of EVMs had been communicated to President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

In its report, the committee observed that the Election Commission should initiate the process for procurement of EVMs for the pilot project and suggested that a request for quotations should be sent to leading EVM vendors.

It has been recommended that all stakeholders should be consulted to include their views on the use of EVMs in the pilot project and a survey should be carried out among voters to learn about their experience of the use of machines.

The sources said that billions of rupees would be needed to implement the project as some 200,000 EVMs would have to be procured for general elections. The cheapest machine offered by an Indian company costs Rs25,000, but the EC wants to introduce a better version.

The sources hoped that substantial foreign funding would be available for the project aimed at making election results in Pakistan credible.

They said that development of error-free electoral rolls was also a step in the same direction and it would be done in collaboration with Nadra before the local bodies elections.

Some countries, such as India and Philippines, are moving towards full implementation of EVM solutions but others, like Netherlands and Germany, are reverting to paper balloting. The United Kingdom and Ireland have chosen to retain paper balloting.

In June, EVM vendors gave a live demonstration of their products to the Election Commission. Representatives of political parties and civil society also attended the demonstration and gave their input.


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