In August this year, the Election Commission of Pakistan had announced its intentions to allow overseas expats to vote in the country’s general elections in 2018, as long as they held their citizenship. Keeping with the plan, a mock exercise was conducted to evaluate security, among other things. The Pakistani embassy in Riyadh, the High Commission in London and its consulates in New York, Dubai, Manchester, Bradford and Glasgow carried out the test. Employees at the foreign missions were asked to participate in the exercise, by voting for fictitious candidates, via two means — postal and online ballots.
Election Commission of Pakistan
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday unveiled its plan for next general elections in 2018 promising to introduce biometric voting machines, but rubbished the rigging allegations in last year’s polls. ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan during a news conference held here at the commission’s office said foreign observers and independent election monitoring bodies had expressed satisfaction with election process in country held in May 2013. “Let me make it very clear that anybody who has doubt about rigging in elections, should wait for the Election Tribunals to come up with final judgments,” the secretary told newsmen in apparently pointing to Imran Khan, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) chief, who has been lambasting the election results.
In the wake of ongoing thumb print verification controversy, National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has taken proactive initiative by developing electronic voting machine (EVM) solution proposed to be placed on all polling stations across the country. The Nadra claims that the system aims at ensuring transparency and rigging-free elections because each voter will be able to cast only one vote. An official press release issued by the authority says that electronic thumb verification of each voter shall be done at the respective polling station before casting the vote without the use of magnetized ink. The new EVM solution will incur only 40 per cent of total cost of magnetized ink that amounts to Rs 2.5 billion.
Over 2,000 journalists working in Islamabad and Rawalpindi will not be able to vote because of duties on May 11. The journalists have demanded that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) devise a swift strategy to facilitate them to vote in their respective constituencies. Many journalists will be on duty on May 11 to report news promptly. Unfortunately the ECP has no system to ensure that journalists can exercise their voting rights.
A source said Nadra chief Tariq Malik had written letters to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis to inform them that his organisation was ready to deploy e-voting facility for overseas Pakistanis. “There is no denying the fact that deployment and installation of e-voting software in host countries is an uphill task and Nadra needs an immediate official nod, including funds amounting to $1.5 million,” said the Nadra official. Any inordinate delay would result in the disenfranchisement of 4.5m Pakistanis living abroad who could otherwise take part in the general election, he added. Under the directives of Supreme Court (SC), Nadra developed a software within the given deadline for overseas registered voters to exercise their right to franchise. A demonstration was also made which was three-member bench of the SC headed by the chief justice.
Top officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the law ministry held a meeting on Tuesday to review e-voting facility for overseas Pakistanis for May 11 polls for which the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has developed a software. A source told Dawn that those attending the meeting had already reached the conclusion that overseas Pakistanis should not be allowed to cast their vote this year due to what they called ‘incomplete’ arrangements and some legal and diplomatic constraints. The meeting was also attended by Attorney General Irfan Qadir. “It has been decided that another round of talks on the e-voting will be held on Wednesday. It will also be attended by representatives of Finance Ministry, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis, Foreign Office, Ministry of Information Technology and Nadra,” a senior official of the law ministry said.
Pakistan: ‘Prohibitively expensive’: Election Commission opposes online vote for expatriates | The Express Tribune
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) took an unexpected U-turn when it opposed an online voting system for overseas Pakistanis, terming it expensive, time-consuming, and impracticable. In its report submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday, the ECP contended that facilitating eligible overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in the upcoming general elections was not advisable.
In compliance with an order of the Supreme Court, the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has devised a software to help 4.5 million overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in the coming general elections. The $1.5 million software will help overseas Pakistanis in 15 countries, including the US, UK, Canada, Saudi Arabia, UAE, France and Australia, to vote at 150 polling stations. However, approval of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be required to prepare required legislation. Nadra chairman Tariq Malik said at a news conference that a detailed briefing would be given to ECP on the software on Monday and if the ECP approved it, a briefing would be arranged for the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court’s insistence on enabling overseas Pakistanis to vote in the May 11 general elections has placed the relevant authorities in a fix. Severely castigated by the court for their inability to devise a workable mechanism, the authorities, including the Election Commission of Pakistan, have deliberated several options but found them all to be flawed. Talking to The Express Tribune, sources in the ECP and the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) said that none of the proposed mechanisms had been tested and even a minor error could sabotage the entire electoral exercise. … In their report submitted before the SC, NADRA’s IT experts said exercising the internet option would compromise electoral rolls severely due to risks, such as hacking, which could not be mitigated within the short time given for polls. In addition to this, they maintained internet voting could not reliably confirm voters’ identities and would also compromise their privacy. “Such confirmation can only be ensured through biometric verification… in its absence the possibility of casting votes against someone else’s identity cannot be ruled out,” the experts added.
Mir Hazar Khan Khosa, an 84-year-old retired judge, will be Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister till a new National Assembly is elected by mid-May. His name was finalised on Sunday morning by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after the political class failed to arrive on a consensus over caretaker premiership. The announcement was made around noon by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim after the matter was put to vote. Mr. Khosa’s candidature was suggested by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and its allies. And, he was voted in four-to-one by the five-member ECP.