The Decision in Principle in Pakistan

Pakistan’s decision-in-principle process provides an example in which the relevant technical, operational, financial and legal issues surrounding electronic voting were taken into consideration.

To assess the potential for using election technologies, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) established a Committee on the Use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM Committee). Established in November 2009, the EVM Committee consisted of staff from different departments of the Secretariat for the ECP as well as representatives from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) office in Pakistan. The decision to form such a body originated from a presidential request. On the basis of this request, the EVM Committee engaged in a comprehensive feasibility study. 

The EVM Committee established four smaller working groups composed of its own members to look at the different aspects of this study. These working groups assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the existing system, the potential benefits offered by new technologies, the likely cost implications of adopting new technologies and the legal implications.

The EVM Committee also arranged for leading electronic voting machine vendors to demonstrate their technologies to the Election Commission of Pakistan. Three vendors made the trip to Pakistan to demonstrate their products. Political parties, civil society and international stakeholders were invited to these demonstrations, and were able to provide their opinions on the possible use of electronic voting machines.

The findings of the working groups, the vendor demonstration and the consultation process were used to complete a final report and recommendations from the EVM Committee. This report detailed the requirements for an electronic voting system to be used in Pakistan, the challenges to meeting these requirements in the Pakistani context, the likely costs and benefits that could be achieved and the legal changes that would be required before an electronic voting system could be implemented.

The EVM Committee found that solutions did exist that could meet the needs of Pakistan. It recommended that the use of electronic voting machines be further explored through the conduct of pilot projects for electronic voting. The committee also recommended that Pakistani technology companies be encouraged to begin developing domestic electronic voting solutions, possibly in partnership with international electronic voting machine suppliers.

Since the report, Pakistan piloted electronic voting machines in by-elections. Voters cast their ballots by paper as normal, and these paper ballots were counted to generate the results; but each voter could also cast a test ballot on one of the electronic voting machines being piloted. A number of different electronic voting machines were piloted in this way.

Copyright 2024 © - National Democratic Institute - All rights reserved