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PTI withdraws e-voting bill in NA body meeting

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Published: July 14, 2016 05:04 pm

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ISLAMABAD, July 14, 2016: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) withdrew last Tuesday (July 12) a legislative proposal to put in place the electronic voting mechanism during a meeting of the National Assembly’s standing committee.

PTI MNA Dr. Shireen Mehrunnisa Mazari told the Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs that she was withdrawing the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2014 moved by her jointly with her colleague Dr. Arif Alvi. Stating the reasons, she said the settlement reached on the subject of electronic voting in the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms had rendered the bill unnecessary. The bill was moved initially on April 8, 2014, three months prior to formation of the electoral reforms committee.

The bill had sought amendments in sections 2, 24, 30, 33, 38 and 39 of the Representation of the People Act, 1976 while the insertion of a new section 24-A and omission of sections 34, 35, 36 and 37 were also proposed. The mention of ballot paper in all these clauses was replaced with the mention of electrometer. The bill defined the electrometer as a machine or apparatus whether operated electronically or otherwise used for giving and recording of votes.

According to the statement of object and reasons, the bill was proposed to replace the use of ballot papers with electronic voting machines as the counting and recounting procedures of ballot papers were not only archaic and tedious but had a strong element of human error in reaching the fair and acceptable election results. It further argued that the electronic voting technology could speed the counting of ballots and provide improved accessibility for disabled voters. The vote-counting is very fast and it is said that the results can be declared within 2 to 3 hours as compared to 30-40 hours, on an average, under the ballot-paper system. In countries like Pakistan, where literacy is still a factor, illiterate people will find it easier to use electrometers than the ballot paper system, where one has to put the voting stamp on the symbol of the candidate of his/her choice, fold first vertically and then horizontally and put it into the ballot box. With electrometers the voter has to simply press a specified colored button against the candidate and symbol of his choice and the vote is recorded. If an electrometer goes out of order then, the Election Officer can replace the defunct electrometer with a spare one. The votes recorded until the stage when the electrometer went out of order remain safe in the memory of the Control Unit and it is not necessary to start the poll from the beginning.

The mover cited the examples of using Elections Voting Machines (EVMs) in India and United States. Electronic voting systems for electorates have been in use since the 1960s when punched card systems were debuted. Their first widespread use was in the USA where seven countries switched to this method for the 1964 presidential election. Charles Stewart the Manssacherts institute of Technology estimated that one million more ballots were counted in the 2004 USA presidential election than in 2000 because electronic voting machines detected votes that paper-based machines would have erased. The EVMs were being used in Indian General and State Elections in part from 1999 elections and in total since 2004 elections. It would also be easier to transport the EVMs compared to ballot boxes as EVMs are lighter, portable and come with polypropylene carrying cases. It reduces to a great extent the quantity or paper used thus saving a large number of trees making the process eco-friendly.

Another private member bill namely the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2014 (Amendment in Sections 54 and 57) moved by PTI’s Munaza Hassan also came under consideration of the committee. The bill sought to hold the returning officers accountable in case of rigging allegations. The committee also passed the Members of Election Commission (Salary, Allowances, Perks and Privileges) Bill, 2016.

Posted by on July 14, 2016. Filed under Latest Post,Legislation National Assembly,National Assembly. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry