ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is in a state of quandary over how to select the best technology while procuring 400 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) essentially for its lack of technical expertise.

The ECP which is currently in the process of evaluating five bids it received from the private vendors last month to procure 400 EVMs, and has asked them to submit their samples to the ECP.

Procurement of 400 EVMs is part of the ECP’s pilot project to conduct by-elections on vacant seats of the National Assembly, Provincial Assemblies and LGs, and was approved by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the light of recommendations of the electoral reforms committee of the parliament.

The effort aims at ensuring greater degree of transparency by replacing the magnetic ink based paper voting process by employing modern technologies.             

However, credible sources in the government and the ECP are of the view that the Election Commission of Pakistan is set to be mired by yet another controversy relating to procurement of 400 EVMs.

They believed that since the ECP has no technical expertise in such technologies, thus there is a greater likelihood of the repeat of the controversy hitting its efforts in procuring e-voting machines or Biometric Voting Machine (BVMs) in May 2014 when the PTI government in KP had demanded electronic voting in the province.

Interestingly, the ECP did attempt to switch over to the NADRA proposed e-voting in Peshawar, but that apparently did not work and led to a deep controversy between the ECP and NADRA.

NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) had unveiled Electronic Voting System it had developed to help stop fake voting in the elections.

The system was proposed aiming at ensuring transparent elections in Pakistan to prevent casting of a duplicate vote. According to that, voter was to cast only his own vote one time.

All voters were to be verified through their thumb impressions in real time, so no one would be able to cast the vote of a person which is not present in the polling station at that time.

Former Chairman NADRA, Tariq Malik, in a media briefing had unveiled salient features of the system to tackle loopholes in the voting system.

The one billion rupees system consisted of three units voters were to be provided with assistance through multimedia.

First unit the “Voter Identification Unit” was to identify voters through his CNIC, fingerprints of voter will be verified against biometrics in NADRA database.

The second unit is “Vote Casting Unit”. Upon successful identification through first unit, this unit was to display list of candidates with their election symbols of respective constituency.

Voter was supposed to choose candidate of his choice. Selection of candidate by voter was to be recorded in local database as well as on printed ballot.

Third unit the “Result Management Unit” was related to the digital results prepared by counting printed ballots.

Former NADRA Chairman had claimed that this technology would get rid of all the mess created by magnetic ink which costs about 2-3 billion rupees in every election.

According to him the proposed system to ensure that if a voter fails to confirm his identity through thumb impression, he/she would not be allowed to proceed to vote during polling.

Despite repeated efforts ECP official spokesperson was not reachable on the cell phone for comments.