ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is expecting over 700,000 overseas Pakistanis would get registered as voters through online registration process for exercising their right of vote in the upcoming by-elections through the I-Voting system.
According to sources in the ECP, the online registration process of overseas Pakistanis for voting in the by-elections has begun which will continue till September 15.
It said that the online voting registration system has been developed in collaboration with NADRA and over 700,000 overseas Pakistanis will become registered voters through the newly developed system.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday okayed the use of I-voting system by overseas Pakistanis in the upcoming by-polls after the Supreme Court ruled that the system was ready for use.
The voter registration process will start on September 1 and overseas Pakistanis will be given 15 days to register themselves to vote on the ECP website or on overseasvoting.gov.pk. The registration will end on September 15. The overseas Pakistanis will only be able to vote in the constituencies their vote is registered in.
It is pertinent to mention here that only those overseas Pakistanis who are already registered voters will be able to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming by-polls.
As per the apex court’s directive, the results of the I-voting will remain segregated from the basic balloting process so that it could not affect the election results in case of any dispute.
In a landmark decision earlier this month, the Supreme Court had permitted Pakistanis residing abroad to cast their votes in the upcoming by-polls.
“Many congratulations to overseas Pakistanis today,” said Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, noting that it would be the first time that expat Pakistanis will be voting in a local election. If the pilot project of overseas Pakistanis voting in the by-elections ends successfully, it will lead to the court granting expats the right to vote in the general elections.
The by-polls will be arranged to fill seats vacated by lawmakers who contested and won more than one seat in the July 25 elections, or for other reasons.
The judgement was issued by a three-judge bench headed by the CJP which was hearing petitions at the apex court’s Lahore registry filed by PTI Chairman Imran Khan and others, seeking voting right for overseas Pakistanis.
Meanwhile, the ECP said that last date for receiving applications for postal ballot for by-elections has been fixed as September 27.
In a notification, the ECP said the facility has been extended to the persons in government service, members of armed forces, holders of public offices and their spouses and children, physically disabled persons, and prison inmates.
The Commission has also asked the Presiding Officers, Assistant Presiding Officers, Polling Officers and Police Personnel, who are assigned duties at the polling stations to apply for postal ballot by 4th of October.
OVERSEAS PAKISTANIS GET RIGHT TO VOTE AFTER LONG STRUGGLE
INP adds: Overseas Pakistanis have won the right to vote in Pakistani elections after a hard-fought battle of nearly 25 years, speakers at a conference said in London on Sunday.
In the conference, various speakers said that the right to vote for overseas Pakistanis was secured after a massive campaign and it is the duty of the diaspora to protect its legal and Constitutional rights.
Syed Qamar Raza, Chairman of the World Congress of Overseas Pakistanis (WCOP), said that a lot needs to be done to make the system fool-proof, but the fact that the right to vote has been achieved shows a great stride forward.
He said that the WCOP was one of the petitioners hailing from the 14 countries to speak up for the right to vote.
“The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced that the votes of overseas Pakistanis will be registered from September 1st to 15th. NADRA was ordered to prepare the registration software by early September,” Raza said.
WCOP’s counsel Barrister Dawood Ghazanvi was also present from Pakistan to brief the overseas Pakistanis on the importance of the apex court’s recent verdict.
He said: “The overseas Pakistanis will be able to cast their votes through I-vote mechanism on polling day in Pakistan as per electoral rolls.
The ECP will be required to register overseas Pakistanis in their home constituencies for the upcoming by-elections in October 2018.
On the polling day, overseas Pakistanis would log on to a website and enter their secret voter IDs, which will be communicated to overseas voters on polling day.
After logging in, the voter would select a National Assembly or Provincial Assembly ballot option and select from a list of candidates for their constituency in accordance with their NICOP address.”
Ghazanvi said that the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has prepared a three-tier electronic mechanism—named the Internet Voting System for overseas Pakistanis – at a cost of Rs 150 million.
“The electronic system will be secured through a firewall, intrusion detection system, and intrusion prevention system. Nadra is making extensive efforts to make it hacking proof by working on its security protocols,” Ghazanvi explained.