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‘It cannot stop rigging’: Election commission rejects EVMs’ proposal

ECP says EVMs cannot conduct free, transparent elections. (Source: File)

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday rejected the government’s proposal to use Electronic voting machines (EVMs) during elections, saying that it cannot stop rigging in polls.

“The EVMs cannot be used to conduct free and transparent elections in line with the Constitution,” the electoral body said during a meeting of a parliamentary committee of the Senate.

Explaining why the EVMs could not stop rigging, the ECP said it can be hacked, the machine can be easily tampered with, and the software can be easily changed. “The machine can misuse state power, and it cannot prevent horse-trading”, the ECP maintained.

“There is no secrecy of the voter in the electronic voting machine; there is a lack of transparency; testing time before the next general election is less; stakeholders are not on board; people have not been taken into confidence,” the ECP said.

The electoral body highlighted it did not have enough funding to roll out the machines throughout the country, and it also asked the government how can it be sure of the machine’s transparency.

There has been a heated debate between the government, the Opposition, and other stakeholders over the use of EVMs, with the Centre claiming it is a way forward to make the elections in the country transparent.

Earlier in the day, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said a detailed discussion was held on electoral reforms in Federal Cabinet, with Adviser Babar Awan, Federal Minister Shibli Faraz and Minister for IT Syed Amin giving detailed briefings to the federal cabinet in this regard.

He reiterated the claim that “no sitting government” had proposed electoral reforms, and PTI is the “first” to do so. “Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N has never won an election without rigging, which is why they are not interested in changing the system,” he added.

“Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari can become the prime ministers in case Pakistan’s fortunes take a turn for the worst or there is intense rigging — there is no other way for them to become prime ministers,” he added.

“Sitting at their homes, they reject all electoral reforms saying ‘we don’t accept it,” he lamented, adding such an “inept” and “incompetent” Opposition had “never existed” in Pakistan.