PM Imran Khan inspects EVMs developed by the Minister of Science and Technology in this August 5, 2021 picture. Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has asked the government for funds for the testing and deployment of electronic voting machines (EVMs).

The country’s parliament recently passed a bill on electronic voting and voting right for Pakistanis living abroad in the next general elections in 2023.

ECP has requested funds and necessary infrastructure to procure around 800,000 electronic voting machines and maintain a secure warehouse for the devices before the next general elections, likely be held in October 2023.

In a letter to the government, the electoral body requested the allocation of funds as it had to prepare for the use of modern technology in the election in the next 20 months. The ECP said it would also require a building for data centre, control centre, modern lab, printing and training sessions before the elections.

The electoral body has initiated work on the technical aspects of e-voting and formed three panels to examine the technical processes, the financial cost of the process and to identify difficulties and suggest amendments.

The ECP secretary had earlier raised reservations over the use of EVMs in the next general elections. However, the federal cabinet has formed a ministerial committee to coordinate with the ECP to ensure implementation of the recently passed legislation on electoral reforms, said Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said.

Transparent and fair elections

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government announced the introduction of the electronic voting system to make the election process fair and transparent, in a country where elections are often marred by allegations of rigging. The EVMs have been developed by a high-tech Pakistani company called Rapidev.

The e-voting machines are “equipped with the latest technology to address shortcomings of the current electoral process.” The devices are simple to operate, portable as well as reliable, efficient and accurate, and would strictly maintain the sanctity of vote and voter identity, the company said.