Federal Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz on Wednesday said that electronic voting machines (EVMs) could not be hacked and were the best solution to problems of rigging during polls.
“The machines could not be hacked or riddled with bugs since they were not connected to the internet, dependent on mechanisms such as Bluetooth, WiFi or an operating system”, said the minister while addressing a media briefing here Wednesday. The government had arranged a demonstration of EVMs for lawmakers. The science minister called upon lawmakers to come and test out the EVM on display to satisfy themselves.
He further said that the machines were made while keeping in view all requirements of the Election Commission of Pakistan. No changes can be made in the machine nor any USB can be plugged into it, he added. The minister further said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is the only constitutional institution that can decide whether they want to use these machines or not.
It was up to the ECP to decide whether the machines fulfilled the requirements, adding that the ECP was the only constitutional institution that could approve or reject them.
“We are coordinating with the ECP. Before or immediately after Muharram [we will demonstrate EVMs to the ECP], obviously it’s the biggest stakeholder,” he said.
He added that the government had tried to incorporate all the requirements of the ECP into the EVMs.
Faraz said that EVMs is the solution to rigging during and after elections. Through electronic voting, elections would be transparent and their results immediate and trustable.
Responding to a number of questions on how EVMs functioned, Faraz said repeated votes were not possible, adding that EVMs were not connected with the National Database and Registration Authority. He emphasized that voters would continue to be unidentifiable and that votes would not be verified through thumb impressions but voter lists instead.
“The machine will only decide the process of entering the vote,” he explained. Faraz said three percent of votes or a total of 1.8 million votes were wasted from all over the country during general elections and margins of victory often came down to one or two votes. EVMs would eliminate this waste, he said.
“The use of EVM in election will help prevent vote rigging and eliminate mistrust of the candidates over the polling as well as results compilation process”, said Faraz, adding that the whole world was transferring to the modern technology and it was the right time for them to adopt this technology for making the election process transparent.
Faraz said that around 184 million people in the country use mobile phones and there were 120 million registered voters. For all these people, technology usage is not a new thing.
It is very unfortunate that the elections in the past were controversial due to the lack of technology. “EVM is the best solution to curb electoral fraud and irregularities”, he emphasized.
On the occasion, the federal minister invited Speaker National Assembly, Asad Qaiser, and other parliamentarians to check the feature of EVM by casting vote.
The parliamentarians witnessed the practical demonstration by casting vote up to the results issuance.
Qaiser took to Twitter after testing the EVM out for himself, saying that technological advancements were “pivotal” to ensure transparency in the electoral process and strengthen democracy.