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ECP takes major initiative to introduce EVMs on trial basis

ISLAMABAD: (Parliament Times) The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has taken an initiative to equip itself with the latest facilities of biometric and electronic voting systems, which would be used during by-elections on trial basis.

Once these EVMs and BVMs machines are delivered by vendors, the same will be used in multiple pilot testing in upcoming bye-elections to see their results, Secretary ECP, Babar Yaqub Fateh Muhammad said this while addressing a contract signing ceremony held to procure Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) here on Friday.

Director General (Admin) Brig Abbas Aliand (retd) and Chief Executive Officer of M/s Smartmatic International Holding inked the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations for procurement of 150 EVMs.

Giving details, the Secretary ECP said an international tender was floated to acquire EVMs and BVMs last year and six vendors of EVMs and five vendors of BVMs participated during the bidding process.

Talking to media-persons, Babar Yaqub Fateh said all the stakeholders like voters, parliamentarians, media, civil society organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations (NG0s), observers and the general public will be invited to witness testing of these new technologies to attain aspect of inclusiveness and joint consensus.

He said this is a pilot project and ECP wanted to see the results by using the system in bye-elections and added at a later stage ECP would decide to use EVMs and BVMs in general elections keeping in view their all merits and demerits.

However, he said, it would cost around Rs. 35 billion for more than 0.3 million polling stations, which is a huge amount.

Replying to a question, he said the quality of EVMs and BVMs is our top priority and in this regard, a committee having experts from different organisations was also constituted.

He said training of election officers and staff, general awareness of voters and better coordination of ECP staff with voters was also part of pilot project to introduce new system in the country.

The Secretary said the introduction of electronic voting machines and biometric system was part of bringing reforms in the electoral system and the decision has been taken after feedback of previous elections.

The ECP had consulted with all stakeholders over the proposed reforms, he added.

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