No one should pressurize us on EVMs: ECP

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan Friday made it clear that it had been taking various steps even before the legislation regarding the electronic voting machines and that it was fully aware of its responsibilities and none should try to put it under pressure.

Referring to some media sections, the Election Commission spokesperson said it was a wrong impression that the Commission was neglecting its responsibilities regarding the use of electronic voting machine.

“In this regard, the Election Commission wants to make it clear that even before the rules of electronic voting machine, it has been taking various steps regarding the use of technology. Immediately after the related legislation, the Commission formed three committees regarding the technology, which gave a briefing to the Election Commission on their work on December 23, 2021,” he said.

The Commission maintained that acquisition of electronic voting machine was a technical process which required various stages apart from international tendering, the most important of which were designing scope of work for automation of electoral processes, finalization of general requirement specifications as per PPRA Rules, preparation of technical specifications as per international standards, identification of required function, features and business process flows to handle EVMs, preparation of vendor and platform neutral Request for Proposal (RFP), project timelines and milestones, selection of best evaluated bids through competitive bid, award of contract, manufacturing of EVMs by vendor, setting up of EVMs testing and certification labs, engagement of third party consultants for testing and certification of EVMs, production and delivery of EVMs, testing and certification of EVMs by consultants that EVMs are fit for use in elections, arranging customized and secure warehouses for storage of EVMs (200,000 to 350,000 sft depending on number of EVMs), making arrangements for safe and secure transportation of EVMs, hiring of technical human resource for managing EVMs through delivery, acceptance, testing, certification, transportation, deployment, poll day operations and transportation back to warehouses, configuration and deployment of machines, training of staff, and poll day support and maintenance.

The Commission emphasized that PPRA Rules in the process of acquiring these machines and international standards could not be ignored. The ECP also has to ensure that the vendor of the machine is not vendor specific and third party testing of the machines is also required. This machine can be used for holding free and fair elections. Some people use this technology.

There is not much clarity about this which leads to such irresponsible statements and such statements are tantamount to misguiding the public, civil society, organization and media. “In this regard, if anyone needs any kind of explanation, then the doors of the Election Commission are open. None should interfere in the work of the Election Commission and this trend of putting pressure should end. The commission is obliged to discharge its responsibilities and will perform its duties without any pressure,” he said.

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