EVMs — step by step approach

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AS controversy is raging around the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the next general election, a saner proposal has been floated envisaging introduction of these machines in a step-by-step manner.

Experts cautioned the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs Tuesday that use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the next elections would be a premature move and issues of transparency and secrecy being the fundamental voter right would be compromised.

There are also reports that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has raised 37 objections on the issue of EVMs, emphasizing that a gradual introduction may be helpful in achieving the objective of fairness and transparency in the polling process.

The use of EVMs has become a delicate issue because of the insistence of the Government to use them at all costs in the next general elections while the opposition has completely rejected the proposition.

The way the issue is being handled would make the next general election controversial even before these are held.

The Government has done well by moving towards introduction of technology in the election process as this could ultimately lead to introduction of a fully transparent system of voting.

However, we must bear in mind that a handful of countries that today use EVMs did not introduce the system in one go and instead adopted a gradual approach, removing lacunae identified during testing and trial phases.

This can be replicated in Pakistan as well by using EVMs at selected polling stations of some selected constituencies, ensuring that the deployment does not affect the overall result of a constituency in case of misuse of the technology as is being apprehended by the opposition.

As the government and the opposition are not on the talking terms, we appreciate the role being played by the Senate Standing Committee, which sought views and opinions of prominent experts on the use of EVMs.

Some experts have given valuable input which must be taken into consideration by the Government before making a final decision on this sensitive issue.

 

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