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.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has decided to take action against those who defied clear instructions to use approved magnetic ink for thumb impressions of voters on counterfoil of ballot papers, The Express Tribune has learnt. The decision was taken after the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) apprised the commission that instead of the specified magnetic ink required for biometric verification, regular ink was used during polling in two National Assembly constituencies of Karachi, NA-256 and NA-258. While post-election tribunals are hearing complaints of rigging, the tribunal dealing with Karachi region sent a record of the cast votes at some polling stations to Nadra for verification. In NA-256, 57,000 ballot papers could not be verified because the thumb impressions on these ballots were marked with regular ink. Of those that could be verified, there were 5,893 duplicate or multiple votes cast. Over 11,000 used counterfoils had invalid CNIC numbers written.
Overseas Pakistanis are planning agitation against the reluctance of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to make speedy arrangements to enable more than eight million overseas Pakistanis to vote on May 11 elections. Despite clear orders by the highest judiciary of the land to make speedy arrangements, the ECP has continued to tell the court about a range of hurdles to giving overseas Pakistanis right to vote in the 2013 general election. Since the start of the case overseas Pakistanis had hoped that they would soon hear good news but that has not happened and various groups are in discussion to start protests against the ECP and other government agencies. Many workers of Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and especially Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have plans to take part in election campaign in Pakistan but they have stayed back in the UK till now just in case British Pakistanis are allowed to cast vote on May 11 polls.
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.
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.