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ECP Wants to Test EVM Effectiveness in Local Government Polls

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo of ECP CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja

Chief election commissioner says Ministry of Science and Technology has not yet responded to its proposal

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) wants to test the effectiveness of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in a “pilot project” during local government polls, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja said on Tuesday.

Speaking to media after addressing a ceremony marking National Voters’ Day, he said the ECP was reviewing all aspects of the EVM prepared by the Science and Technology Ministry, as well as alternate machines available internationally. “[The ECP] wants to carry out pilot run of the EVMs in the local bodies polls,” he said. However, he added, the Ministry of Science and Technology had not yet responded to the ECP’s proposal for this.

Earlier, during his address, Raja sought to negate the impression of a “rift” between the ECP and the government. He said the ECP would conduct the next general polls—scheduled for 2023—in a “transparent” manner.

Also on Tuesday, the federal cabinet approved a timeline to award contracts for the purchase of EVMs and train staff to operate them—even though the mandate for this rests with the ECP. According to the cabinet’s plans, delivery of EVMs should commence from June 15, 2022 and be completed by June 15, 2023. Science and Technology Minister Shibli Faraz also proposed the completion of all technical requirements by Dec. 15—next week—and the commencement of staff training from Dec. 1—seven days ago.

While the ECP has not issued any official response to the timeline, the autonomous body has already formed three committees to calculate the funds required for EVMs, and amend existing rules and regulations to align them with requirements under new laws. ECP officials have maintained that they would not proceed further until the committees had provided the results of their deliberations.

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