The National Assembly enacted the “Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022” on Thursday to perform by-election trial projects before utilising I-Voting and electronic voting machines (EVMs) in general elections.
Speaking in the National Assembly on the occasion, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar refuted the notion that the change is intended to deprive abroad Pakistanis of their right to vote.
He stated that abroad Pakistanis are a valuable asset to the country and that the administration does not believe in taking away their right to vote.
Concerning the use of EVMs, the law minister stated that they are not opposed to the use of technology, but they are concerned about its misuse, since the Results Transmission System (RTS) failed to favour a certain political party in the 2018 elections.
He further stated that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has indicated its inability to run elections using I-Voting and EVMs in a short period of time and without appropriate preparation.
He stated that two modifications are being proposed to the Elections Act of 2017, allowing the ECP to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections.
According to the amendment to Section 94 of the Election Act, 2017, the ECP may conduct pilot projects for voting by overseas Pakistanis in by-elections to determine the technical efficacy, secrecy, security, and financial feasibility of such voting and shall share the results with the government, which shall lay the report before both Houses of Parliament within 15 days of the receipt of the report.
The ECP may launch pilot projects for the use of EVMs and biometric verification systems in by-elections under a modification to Section 103 of the Election Act of 2017.
Speaking on the occasion, Raja Riaz Ahmed, the Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, stated that the NA’s tenure should be completed and elections held on time.
‘A regressive and heinous conduct’
Meanwhile, the PTI has slammed the measure, calling it a “regressive and condemnable conduct” by the government.
PTI vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi remarked on Twitter, “PTI provided over 9 million Overseas Pakistanis the right to vote.” Today, this gang of criminals and thugs dismantled it, depriving a startling number of Pakistanis of their right to vote and prohibiting the use of computerised voting machines.”