October 3, 2023

Staff Reporter – Islamabad:

The government failed to convince the opposition on the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs.

The PTI-led government had been insisting on the use of EVMs to ensure the holding of “fair and transparent” polls in the country.

The Senate panel met under the chairmanship of Taj Haider in Islamabad.

The Ministry of Science and Technology while briefing the participants of the meeting maintained that the EVM will have a dedicated control unit which would help in its functioning.

The ministry said the control unit would help in the registration of candidates, grant permission to cast vote and stop the voting process once the balloting time was over.

The ministry told the participants that one ballot unit of the EVM could contain the details of 20 candidates and that the EVM would be able to store the data of 200 candidates in any constituency.

A voter will be asked to cast vote by pressing the ballot button on the control unit. As soon as the button is pressed, an LED bulb will light up and a voice will be heard confirming the casting of vote.

The voters will then get a confirmation receipt from the machine which they will put in the ballot box. The unverified votes will be rejected by the machine.

Senator Farooq H Naek questioned what would happen if the presiding officer allowed a fake voter to enter the polling station and cast his vote by pressing the button on the machine.

Senator Afnanullah Khan asked whether the machine would scan the voter’s CNIC first before allowing him to cast his vote. He inquired what would happen if anyone else’s CNIC was used to cast a ballot.

The science ministry officials responded that the EVM had the option of biometric verification wherein the thumbprint would be cross-verified against a vote.

Naek pointed out that Germany and the United Kingdom had stopped the use of EVMs.

Expressing his reservations, Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar asked whether the same EVM that was being discussed would be used in the elections. He said the ECP should be giving a briefing on the EVMs instead of the government.

Naek said until all the stakeholders were on the same page, relying on the EVMs would create further problems in the next elections.

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