Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were under consideration to be used in the upcoming elections but the incumbent government passed a bill in the Pakistan National Assembly against its use. With the Electronic Voting Machines foreigners were also able to vote via the I-Voting but now with this bill they are ripped of this right.
This bill was forwarded to the Senate on Friday, according to Pakistan’s Dawn Newspaper.
According to a Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), this bill has restored the original form of Election Act of 2017 which will assure free, fair and transparent elections. The 2017 Election Act was amended by the PTI administration through the Elections (Second Amendment) Bill, 2021 which gave the oversees Pakistanis the right to vote in general elections.
The PML-N minister further added that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had been unable to hold elections through I-Voting and EVMs without a proper homework and that too in a short span time.
The minister also clarified that their government is not against the use of technology but implementing and conducting elections using EVMs in a single day is not possible. According to the minister the EVM technology had been misused in the general elections last time and had failed to give fair results.
The PML-N minister also added that overseas Pakistani are an important asset and their government is not in favor of depriving them of their right to vote.
On the other hand, the PTI government has strongly criticized the amendments in the Election Act and has termed it as a “regressive and condemnable act” by the PML-N government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Shareef.
PTI vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi tweeted
“PTI gave over nine million overseas Pakistanis the right to vote.” Today, this band of thieves and thugs removed it, disenfranchising a staggering number of Pakistanis and barring the use of electronic voting machines. “
On the other hand the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) lawmaker Ghous Bakhsh Mehr said that EVMs are being used tall around the world and Pakistan should at least try using them. He further added that if the EVMs cannot be used throughout the country they should be used in some areas.
In the National Assembly session the expenses that will be incurred in the coming general elections were shared. According to the electoral watchdog for fresh polls a total cost of Rs.47.41 billion will be made, out of which the security cost is around Rs.15 billion.
A cost of Rs.4.83 billion will be incurred for printing ballot papers whereas in conducting electronic voting Rs.5.6 billion will be incurred with an extra of Rs.1.79 billion will be spent on training the EVM polling staff.