The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will not be conducting its bi-annual elections this year with electronic voting machines.
The machines will now be used next year under a pilot project.
The EVMs were procured under the orders of the Prime Minister, as recommended by the Electoral Reforms Committee of the Parliament. They were to be used in the September elections but the plan did not bear fruit due to unknown reasons.
ECP floated tenders for bids by national and international companies to purchase 400 EVMs on 20th June 2016.
These EVMs were going to be used under a pilot project of the ECP to conduct elections on vacant seats of the national and provincial assemblies.
Tried And Failed in 2014
Back in 2014 ECP faced issues with NADRA when the commission tried to implement e-voting. At that time, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government in KPK had demanded electronic voting in the region.
The emphasis on electronic voting is to ensure better transparency in voting and to avoid duplicate votes. All of the voters will be identified in real time using their thumb impressions (saved in NADRA’s database) to make sure that one person casts only one vote.
The system would cost the government Rs. 1 billion and could save upwards of Rs. 2-3 billion incurred every time on elections due to the use of magnetic ink-based paper.
The Electronic Voting System
The first unit of the system called “Voted Identification Unit” would have the voter identify themselves via biometric verification. If they match with their NADRA database entry, they can then proceed to the second unit. If a person cannot be identified via biometric verification, they will not be allowed to vote.
The second unit will have the voters select their election candidate by choosing the respective symbol of the political party. Their selection will be recorded by NADRA and will also be printed for the ballot.
The third unit will then count the votes recorded in the digital database as well as the printed ballot to avoid any discrepancies.