Election Commission of Pakistan and Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms reviews use of Electronic Voting Machines and Biometrics with United Nations expert

Islamabad, February 10, 2016 (PPI-OT): The Election Commission of Pakistan with the assistance of UNDP held a Seminar on the “Use of Technology in Elections” with a particular focus on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Biometrics. The event provided forum for the Election Commission of Pakistan and other stakeholders to initiate a meaningful discussion and identify workable solutions on the use of technologies in elections.

Honourable Chief Election Commissioner Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza, chairing the meeting, outlined how the use of any modern technology must contribute to the ECP’s constitutional obligation to conduct elections honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against.

The CEC outlined how the Election Commission, in consultation with the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Electoral Reforms has piloted a range of innovative initiatives such as mobile results transmission, biometric voter identification, and a GIS-enabled polling schemes. All these efforts aim at ensuring the credibility of the democratic process and the reliability of election results in line with the international best practices for sustainable democracy and good governance in Pakistan.

“Before committing to a large technology purchase,” the CEC noted, “the ECP would carefully review it’s appropriateness to the context of Pakistan, and would also test it extensively in the field.” Mr. Ronan Mcdermott, a leading UN expert on Electoral Technology, presented a global view of the merits and demerits of the main electoral technologies and gave comparative experience on the adoption of them.

“My experience in elections management in Pakistan and other countries leads me to recommend that Pakistan pilots a variety of EVM over 2017 and in some 2018 General Election polling stations to determine which technology is most appropriate.” Subject to successful pilots, and stakeholder acceptance, McDermott recommended that ECP gradually scales up EVM with a target date for full national rollout not earlier than 2023.

On results technology, Mr. McDermott recommended that the results management system be given a solid legal framework and be used in all bye-elections between now and 2018. “Transparent results management contributes to ECP’s credibility,” he said, “and delivers the most bang for your buck.” He said that trust was more important than technology itself.

The event was chaired by the Hon’ble Chief Election Commissioner Mr. Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza, and attended by ECP Member Justice (retd.) Riaz Kiyani, the Minister for Climate Change Mr. Zahid Hamid, Senators Mushahid Hussaid Syed, Saeed Ghani, Ms. Sitara Ayaz, Usman Khan Kakar, MNAs Dr. M. Farooq Sattar, Dr. Arif Alvi, Ghous Bux Khan Mahar, Sahibzada Tariq Ullah, S.A. Iqbal Qadri, and representatives of Civil Society including FAFEN, DRI, and Aurat Foundation. The participants appreciated the positive efforts of the Election Commission towards introduction of new technologies in elections to enhance public trust.

For more information, contact:
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)
Election Commission of Pakistan Secretariat,
Election House, Constitution Avenue G-5/2,
Islamabad
Tel: +92-51-9201975, +92-51-9206062
Fax: +92-51-9205402, +92-51-9205300
Website: www.ecp.gov.pk