Islamabad [Pakistan], April 3 (ANI): Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's push for electronic voting machines (EVMs) has met huge opposition from experts and insiders in the country citing huge costs of the transition, along with technical and trust issues in the election results, which are often disputed.
The introduction of EVMs by the Prime Minister caught the spotlight after a recent controversial election of a Senate chairman in which a government candidate lost a key senate seat to a joint opposition candidate, where seven ballot papers had to be destroyed by the presiding officer for breaking rules, Arab News reported.
During the election of the Senate chairman last month, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) Sadiq Sanjrani received 48 votes while his opponent and former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani received 42 votes as his seven votes were rejected.
Pakistan Former Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) secretary Kanwar Dilshad said it was unlikely EMVs could be introduced by the next general election due to financial, logistical, and technical constraints.
"At least 1 trillion rupees (USD 6.5 billion) is required to replace manual voting with digital voting procedures: Electronic voting machines, biometric verification machines, or Internet voting for overseas Pakistani's in general elections," Arab News quoted Dilshad. He further added that 60 billion rupees would be required for the procurement of 350,000 EVMs alone.
"This is a futile exercise. The Election Commission of Pakistan pilot projects regarding EVMs have failed in the past," he said.
"No political party is ready to trust technology after the RTS (results transmission system) issue in 2018," Pakistan People's Party Senator Taj Haider said, referring to a controversy in the general election over the collapse of the RTS system during the counting process, leading to claims of rigging.
"E-voting can only proceed if elections are conducted without establishment interference under an honest and independent ECP," Haider said.
Raja Zafar ul Haq, a senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader, said that EVMs would undermine Pakistan's electoral process if introduced without a consensus.
"It will also increase fear of manipulation and further damage the credibility of elections," he said. (ANI)