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Pakistans’s Next Elections on EVM

The ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has been pushing for electoral reforms for a long time, particularly after their loss to PMLN in the 2013 General Elections. PTI wants to do away with the traditional way of counting paper ballots and replace it with the electronic version of voting using Electronic Voting Machines or EVM’s.
PTI had also rolled out a prototype of an EVM and showcased it to the opposition parties in anticipation of using it in the next general elections of 2023.
Dr Babar Awan, the advisor to the PM said that a prototype of indigenously built EVM has been developed by COMSATS, NIE and NUST under the supervision of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).
Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have replaced the traditional ballot paper system in many countries, although many countries have also discontinued the use of EVMs.

India, our next-door neighbor, is the world’s largest democracy, with over 900 million voters. It began electronic voting pilots in 1982 and continued to improve the technology until it was adopted nationwide in 2004. In today’s national elections, 1.4 million battery-operated electronic voting machines the size of a suitcase are programmed to equip over a million polling stations.

The closest presidential election in US history was tallied in November 2000, and the world was fascinated for thirty days.Recount teams in Florida squinted at “hanging chad” on punch-card votes, attempting to decipher voters’ intent, throwing the vote count into turmoil.

When votes were marked outside of the designated box, there were revelations regarding concerns with accuracy not only with punch-card ballots, but also with optically scanned paper ballots. Despite the fact that the majority of jurisdictions ran well, high-profile examples involving razor-thin margins emphasized the need for increased accuracy and led to a nationwide agreement to upgrade voting technology and restore public confidence.

Following the election, several prominent American universities, including Caltech, MIT, and Harvard, as well as the Carter Center, launched programs to suggest electoral reform.

How can we create safe, secure, smart systems for people to be able to vote much easier online

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The government also showed a prototype of an EVM machine in 2021, which it plans to roll out for the national elections in 2023. But, in reality, how viable is this option? Is Pakistan able to afford it? Will it work to ensure free and fair elections?
Electronic Voting Machine EVM Pakistan
During a joint sitting of parliament on November 17, 2021, the government and its allies defeated the opposition by passing bills that pave the way for the country’s next general elections to be held using electronic voting machines (EVMs) and giving approximately 10 million Pakistanis living abroad the right to vote in the 2023 elections.
Given the political turmoil, the passage of almost two dozen bills by a majority vote demonstrates the Treasury benches’ faith in Prime Minister Imran Khan when the National Assembly and Senate gathered together for a joint sitting.
However, as soon as the opposition parties walked out from the session to record their protest against the bulldozing of the legislative business, it literally gave a walk over to the treasury benches, which accelerated the pace of passing the bills.
The joint sitting resulted in the passing of a total of 33 bills. The government stated that it taking a leap forward to this effect in order to ensure credibility and transparency in the polling process of the next general elections.
The Election of Pakistan, still has concerns over the use of the EVM’s in the 2023 general elections.

On November 18, the ECP secretary stated that he was doubtful whether EVMs would be used in the next general election. The subject was brought up at a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice, and the ECP secretary gave a presentation on the machine to the panel.
He had previously stated that due to various problems, it was premature to confirm the use of EVMs in the next general elections, and that the ECP should conduct three to four pilot projects before utilizing the machines in the general elections. Furthermore, he noted that the commission had yet to determine the exact number of EVMs required for each polling location.

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