President Dr Arif Alvi Thursday signed the Election (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which had earlier been passed by the Parliament and asked opposing voices not to be afraid of “simple” electronic voting machines (EVMs) which he hoped would help in holding a fair election and bringing an end to rigging.
“People will have to trust it. It involves no advancement. It is too simple. The country achieves progress by adopting new things,” the president said while addressing a ceremony.
Passed by the Parliament, the bill provides for holding of the next general election through the EVM as well as granting the right of vote to the overseas Pakistanis through i-voting.
He said the EVM would ensure holding a fair election which had long been desired in Pakistan as every election followed controversies and rigging charges which also impacted the credibility of the respective governments.
He said that after its success in the upcoming elections, EVM would be marketed as the “product of Pakistan.”
Calling it a “great step”, the president said the legislation was made possible owing to the consistency of Prime Minister Imran Khan and hard work by the cabinet members despite huge resistance.
He said that it would help print the vote at the spot instead of printing the ballot paper at the press.
The president went on to say that the machine would help to do away practice of printing extra ballot papers which used to be sold out later, the kidnapping of presiding officers, and confusion in the counting process.
He said while using EVMs that voters would cast their vote by touching the screen instead of stamping the ballot paper.
“The process is the same. Then what is the resistance for?” he questioned.
He explained that for an accurate result, votes would be counted through an in-built calculator, though manual counting would also be available for sceptics.
He clarified that the Ministry of Science and Technology was not a manufacturer of the EVMs rather it just made a prototype for the experiment. It would be the Election Commission of Pakistan to select EVMs based on the required specifications.
Coming to i-voting for overseas Pakistanis, the president recounted his as well as PTI’s legal and political struggle to grant voting rights to expatriates.
Rubbishing the notion of hacking, the president quoted the 2018 data of digital transactions worth $5 trillion a day which he said involved far lesser chances of hacking than a plane crash.
Terming the innovations as key to development, President Alvi said following the world’s footsteps was no service to the country.
He said due to multiple complications, physical voting for expatriates was not possible.
The president said some countries had rejected the EVMs because they had their own better systems in place. Contrarily, Pakistan needed it owing to its system’s weakness.
He said the EVM would help to alleviate the confusion caused by the post-election rigging charges and bring about a strong government to support democracy.
“Don’t worry, the nation will be convinced. Just like this one, the country will make progress in other fields too,” the president remarked.