The Maldives has expressed support for electronic voting systems in India and Pakistan, and is taking steps to introduce Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to its own electoral process. At an informal meeting of Electoral Commissioners from SAARC member countries in India, the Maldives joined Bhutan, Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka in praising India’s use of EVMs and indicated that “legal amendments would be thought of to see that EVMs were made popular to ensure free and fair polls in their countries,” Indian news outlet The Hindu reported yesterday.
Commissioners met to discuss Afghanistan’s voting procedures in light of waning financial and other aid from NATO allies. Maldives Elections Commission President Fuad Thaufeeq said the commission, which is developing a proposal for Parliament regarding EVMs, has met with the Committee on Independent Commissions to discuss their implementation.
“So far, we have been getting information from many countries in Europe, South America and Asia which have used these. Regionally, India, Nepal, and Bhutan have used the machines and we are also getting advice from them. Hopefully the system will work, but some laws will have to be changed and the public must support the decision,” said Thaufeeq.
Prior to the 2008 Presidential election, India had offered to donate several hundred EVMs to the Maldives. “But it was the wrong time,” said Thaufeeq. “The machines India was using could not do print-outs. This year, they upgraded and added a verification process. I think it’s necessary for the Maldives to have a verification system,” he said.
Thaufeeq indicated that the commission may approach India’s High Commission to renew their offer of donations. Otherwise, he said machines will be chosen through a negotiation process with various companies, and bids may be solicited.
Electronic and internet voting systems have been used worldwide for decades, and have triggered much debate.