Govt showcases EVMs to lawmakers at Parliament

-Shibli Faraz says electronic voting machines can’t be hacked

By Uzma Zafar

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz said on Wednesday that electronic voting machines (EVMs) could not be hacked and were the best solution to problems of rigging during polls.
Addressing a media briefing at Parliament House in Islamabad, where the government had scheduled a demonstration of EVMs for lawmakers, the science minister assured everyone that the machines “couldn’t be hacked or riddled with bugs” since they were not connected to the internet, dependent on mechanisms such as Bluetooth, WiFi or an operating system.
He hailed EVMs as the solution to rigging during and after elections. Through electronic voting, Faraz added, elections would be transparent and their results immediate and trustable. The science minister called upon lawmakers to come and test out the EVM on display to satisfy themselves.
He said it was up to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to decide whether the machines fulfilled the requirements, adding that the ECP was the only constitutional institution that could approve or reject them. “We are coordinating with the ECP. Before or immediately after Muharram we will demonstrate EVMs to the ECP, obviously it’s the biggest stakeholder,” he said. He added that the government had tried to incorporate all the requirements of the ECP into the EVMs.
Responding to a number of questions on how EVMs functioned, Faraz said repeated votes were not possible, adding that EVMs were not connected with the National Database and Registration Authority. He emphasised that voters would continue to be unidentifiable and that votes would not be verified through thumb impressions but voter lists instead.
“The machine will only decide the process of entering the vote,” he explained. Faraz said three per cent of votes or a total of 1.8 million votes were wasted from all over the country during general elections and margins of victory often came down to one or two votes. EVMs would eliminate this waste, he said.
Meanwhile, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser took to Twitter after testing the EVM out for himself, saying that technological advancements were “pivotal” to ensure transparency in the electoral process and strengthen democracy. Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan himself received a detailed presentation and a demonstration of a new locally made EVM.
Faraz had said that the machine had been developed keeping in mind ground realities and in accordance with the specifications of the ECP, which had previously rejected the use of EVMs on technical grounds.