Pakistan Makes Changes to Electoral Law

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Recently, the National Assembly of Pakistan passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2022 that seeks to remove the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in general elections as well as disallows overseas Pakistanis from voting.

This bill will overturn the Elections (Second Amendment) Bill, 2021, that the Imran Khan government bulldozed through parliament last November. At that time the Election Commission of Pakistan had raised objections to that bill. In a document submitted to the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, the ECP warned “that the machine was tampering-prone and its software could easily be altered. “It is nearly impossible to ensure that every machine is honest.””

Further, ECP had said “time was too short for a large-scale procurement and deployment of EVMs and imparting training to a massive number of operators, adding that it was not advisable to introduce EVM nationwide in one go. It said the polls on one day as required under the law would be nearly impossible. The ECP also referred to various other issues linked with the use of EVM, including lack of ballot secrecy, lack of capacity at all levels and lack of ensuring security and chain of custody for the machines at rest and during transportation. It also pointed out that there would be no evidence available in case of election dispute. The ECP noted that data integration and configuration issues may crop up due to court orders at the eleventh hour regarding a change in ballot paper.”

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Author: Adam Ahmad