ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to explore the possibility of using Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to make the polling process more transparent.

The EVMs system will be introduced initially in by-elections as a pilot project and it will be expanded gradually. For general elections around 150,000 EVMs are needed, an ECP official told.

Around 175,000 polling booths are currently required for general elections in the country, he added.

In the election reforms recommendations, he said some political parties had suggested the ECP to introduce an electronic voting system in the country to make the voting process more transparent and easier.

He said, over the last two years the ECP has been working in assessing the feasibility of introducing Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

A significant progress has been made on feasibility study as compared to India where took 22 years to be finalise the study, he added.

He stated that major political parties, including PPP and some civil society organisations working on ensuring transparency in the electoral process, have already approved the system.

An EVM Committee has also been constituted with the objective of conducting a feasibility study on the use of new technologies for voting and the counting, in order to determine whether these technologies are suitable for introduction in Pakistan, he said. 

The demonstrations by COMSATS, TIP, KRL, NIE, Smartmatic and Indra Company (Spain) have already been held to assess the performance, he added.

The suitability of the technologies is being assessed in terms of the advantages they might offer over the current system of paper balloting and counting, the technical and operational challenges associated with their use, a financial assessment of the comparative costs of paper versus electronic voting or counting machines, and the legal implications of using electronic voting or counting machines, he said.

A strategic plan, envisaging 15 goals and a total of 129 objectives has already been devised to make the election process more transparent and authentic, he said.