The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) issued the E-voting Regulations 2016 paving way for the shareholders to be part of the decision-making process of their company through electronic means.
The regulations give the shareholders option to vote in meeting from a remote location by using the Internet. This is a further step by the SECP to encourage corporate democracy and to promote good corporate governance by making use of technological advances.
Shareholders have the right to be part of the decision-making process of their company to the extent provided by the law. Electronic voting is a facility to shareholders living in faraway areas to take part in the decision-making process of the company without attending in person.
E-voting will be mandatory if requested by 5 or more members or by someone who holds at least 10% voting rights
The regulations prescribe mechanisms to make the voting process faster, more transparent and cost-efficient. It facilitates electronic voting on resolutions of companies in a fair and transparent manner. The counting of votes in e-voting is done through electronic means. The results are very accurate and there are no chances of errors. In shareholder meetings, the participation of members will increase as they can now vote from their homes or offices.
The process of e-voting is simple and as per regulations board of directors of a company shall appoint eligible intermediary for e-voting and the intermediary will provide the details of execution officer to the company before issuance of notice of general meeting. Members will be informed through notice of general meeting that they can also exercise their right to vote through e-voting by giving their consent in writing on the appointment of the execution officer by the intermediary as a proxy ten days before the meeting.
It will be binding on the listed company to arrange for e-voting if they receive demand for poll from at least five members or by any member or members having not less than one tenth of the voting power. The company will provide details of members who have opted for e-voting to the intermediary along with their email addresses. Intermediary will provide web address login details, password and electronic signature to members, who have opted for e-voting, at their registered email addresses along with complete information necessary to enable them to cast vote through e-voting at least five days prior to holding of the meeting.
E-voting could set a precedent for foreign based Pakistanis to vote in elections
The facility will remain open for not less than three days and shall close at 1700 hours on the date preceding the date of the general meeting. The identity of the members intending to cast an e-vote will be authenticated through secured electronic signature. For the purpose of ensuring that the members who have cast their votes through e-voting shall not vote again at the general meeting, the chairman of the meeting, after the closure of period for e-voting, shall have access, to details relating to the members, such as their names, folios, number of shares held by members who have cast votes through e-voting. The intermediary and execution officer is required to keep the result of e-voting confidential.
At the place of the meeting, the chairman of the meeting will announce that voting for resolutions will be through poll as demand for poll is received in accordance with section 167 of the ordinance. The execution officer will verify the vote cast through e-voting and shall deem to be a proxy during the time of poll for the purpose of section 161 of the ordinance. T
he chairman or his nominee will immediately after the conclusion of voting at the general meeting, count the votes cast at the meeting and thereafter check the result of e-voting in the presence of two witnesses not in the employment of the company. Voting outcome on resolutions shall be announced by chairman of the meeting and shall also be published on the web portal of the Intermediary at the earliest but not later than 24 hours from the conclusion of the general meeting.
The move can also set an example for the government and other concerned departments to hold e-voting for the overseas Pakistanis. It is their long standing demand and concerned department should take it into consideration. The move would help in strengthening democracy and on one side but would give a chance to millions of Pakistanis to exercise their right of vote.
Reportedly, biometric verification of voters and use of electronic voting machines would not be possible in general election 2018
However it is worth mentioning that officials of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) reportedly informed the parliamentary committee for Electoral Reforms that biometric verification of voters and use of electronic voting machines would not be possible in general election 2018.
During an in-camera session of the committee headed by Federal Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid, ECP officials also told members that overseas Pakistanis will also not able to cast vote in the upcoming countrywide polls.
ECP has faced a number of technical and administrative issues during a mock campaign to test voting scheme from four foreign countries -Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, United States and United Arab Emirates, the committee was informed.