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Govt, ECP ‘agree’ on EVM use for Islamabad LG polls

10 Jan, 2022
Science and Technology Minister Shibli Faraz addresses a press conference in Islamabad. APP
Science and Technology Minister Shibli Faraz addresses a press conference in Islamabad. APP

Science and Technology Minister Shibli Faraz on Monday said that electronic voting machines (EVM) would be used for the local government elections as agreed by the country's top electoral authority.

“The science and technology ministry will provide a specific number of EVMs to the Election Commission of Pakistan by next week for testing purposes so that the ECP could train its staff and convey its observations [to us],” he said in a press conference in Islamabad.

The minister added that the legislation regarding EVMs has been completed with the government now entering the implementation phase. “The question of either EVM will be used in the elections or not is now meaningless.”

The country’s top electoral authority has conveyed to the sci-tech ministry about their requirements, including the number of required EVMs for the LG elections in the federal capital, he said.

"The ministry has written a letter to the ECP that mentioned the breakdown of machines that would be delivered to the commission," he added.

The LG polls in Islamabad are likely to be held in the month of April as per the law.

Referring to the LG elections held in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last month, Shibli said that 234,000 votes were rejected in the polls.

He added that the number was higher than the votes of the winning candidate while the election results were also “delayed". However, he claimed the use of EVMs could have ensured zero wastage of votes and accuracy of results if used.

Faraz said that EVM usage will not only ensure accuracy of election results but also ensure that results are obtained soon after the polling process ends.

Referring to the “false news” spread through some sections of media, he said: “Now conducting election through EVMs is going to become a reality. The ECP and the ministry, which represent the government side, have a strong working relationship and are headed towards the stage of implementation of EVM successfully.”

The minister said the authorities in ECP have also advised the Punjab chief secretary to take administrative measures for conducting LG elections through EVMs. “Local government elections will show that free and fair elections are possible through EVM.”

He was of the view that it was the mandate of ECP to conduct transparent elections in the country and that that the Ministry of Science and Technology was “fully supporting the ECP” for achieving its target in the larger interest of the country.

To a question, the minister said that instead of criticism, the Opposition should send its technical teams to get insight into the EVM technology and become a part of the “national agenda.”

To another query, Shibli Faraz said the tender would be floated by the ECP for the selection of EVMs for the general election, but it would require time. “For now, the ECP wants to test EVMs during this period so that the problems if appears could be addressed before the general election.”

About i-voting, the minister said: “We are working round the clock to develop a mechanism about which relevant stakeholders will be briefed soon. Internationally voter registration process is continuing and hopefully, all overseas Pakistanis will get registered till next year.”