National Assembly approves bill to abolish electronic, overseas voting in next general elections
ISLAMABAD – The National Assembly of Pakistan on Thursday approved fresh amendments to the country’s election laws, rolling back the changes made by the PTI government for use of electronic voting machines and voting right to the overseas Pakistanis in the next general polls slated to be held in 2023.
The PTI government had bulldozed the election bill through the lower house of the parliament in November 2021 amid protest by the then Opposition parties.
Speaking on the occasion, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said that two amendments are being introduced through “The Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022” to revive the Elections Act 2017 in order to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections.
Under the amendments, a pilot project will be conducted in by-election before using I-Voting and EVMs in general elections.
He rejected the impression that the amendments are aimed at depriving overseas Pakistanis of their right to vote, adding that overseas citizens are precious asset of the country.
Tarar said that the government was not against the use of technology in the elections but political parties have concerns about misuse of technology as it happened in 2018 elections when Results Transmission System collapsed.
The law minister said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had also expressed its inability to hold elections through I-Voting and EVMs in a short span of time and without proper homework.
Under the amendment in Section 94 of the Election Act, 2017, the Commission may conduct pilot projects for voting by Overseas Pakistanis in bye-elections to ascertain the technical efficacy, secrecy, security, and financial feasibility of such voting and shall share the results with the government, which shall, within 15 days from the commencement of a session of a House after the receipt of the report, lay the same before both Houses of the Parliament.
Under Amendment in Section 103 of the Election Act, 2017, the ECP may conduct pilot projects for utilization of EVMs and biometric verification system in the bye-elections.
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