Science and technology minister says government wants to conduct 2023 general elections using technology to avoid rigging
Science and Technology Minister Shibli Faraz on Tuesday claimed the government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had, in principle, agreed to conduct the 2023 general elections with electronic voting machines (EVMs)—subject to vetting by a technical team appointed by the ECP.
Addressing media after a meeting with ECP officials in Islamabad, he said that meetings between the government and the forum would continue, but stressed that the general timeline of implementation had been set for the next general elections. He said the ECP’s views on the EVMs were welcome, adding their input would ensure the machines functioned “perfectly.”
To a question, he said that the ECP had also urged the government to enact necessary legislation to allow the use of EVMs. He said the government would start pursuing this, adding that the opposition would also be included in the deliberations. He also said that it would be best to ensure the machines were up to mark prior to tendering their mass manufacturing.
“We talked on a supposition if a voter or a presiding officer kept pressing a voting button on machine, what would happen then?” he said of a concern the ECP had conveyed to him. He said that while a system was already in place to ensure voter identification, the government would consider linking it to the EVMs to prevent their misuse by any presiding officer. “We have a mechanism ready to keep check on a voter to prevent the presiding officer from playing a voter,” he added.
Faraz also reiterated that the government would launch an awareness program to inform the public of the problems encountered in the existing polling system, adding that it would highlight how utilizing technology could help ensure free and fair elections in future and prevent rigging.