Is Electronic Voting in GE 2018 a Possibility? Doesn’t Seem Like That

The Election commission of Pakistan (ECP) might not be able to use Biometric and Electronic voting machines in the next elections. According to the ECP, the procurement of about one million machines would require around Rs90 billion from the government for which the government has still not given a go-ahead. 

With around 80,000 polling stations across the country, ECP would require about 0.6 million machines for the voting process. The price for the units is Rs120,000 (for Electronic) and Rs180,000 (for Biometric) respectively. The estimated total cost of the required equipment makes it to Rs90 billion, if the proposed electoral method via electronic voting is adopted. Although the commission has ordered a few machines to test run them for the future, it’s still very unlikely that they will be used in the 2018 general elections.

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There are two major reasons for this apprehension. Firstly, the government is in no position to give out such huge amounts of currency at the moment, and even if it does, ECP is very short staffed and does not have the means to train them in time. Secondly, even the countries that have used the Biometric Voting Machines (BMVs) and Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have not been able to make the election process absolutely transparent since these machines can be tampered with as well.

The former Chairperson Senate, Farooq H. Naek, has been of the opinion that the most inexpensive and efficient way of carrying out the polling process would be using thumb impressions since they cannot be tampered. NADRA can assist the government in implementing this system in a short time.

The major opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf, however, is of the view that the use of BVMs and EVMs is imperative to ensure a fair and transparent election. 

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Pakistan has been facing the issue of election rigging since the very beginning. This rigging has persuaded the political parties in the country to carry out numerous protests. Although the ECP has tried to make the election process as transparent, still there have been inconsistencies due to the lack of trained manpower and involvement of 3rd party elements. 

Considering the significance of a free and fair election process it should be the foremost concern of the State machinery to ensure that proper measures be taken to rule out any chance of an electoral discrepancy.

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