President Alvi emphasizes use of electronic voting machines amid delayed election results, rigging allegations

Election officials count ballot papers after polls closed at a polling station during Pakistan national election in Lahore on February 8, 2024. (AFP)
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  • Ex-PM Khan planned to employ EVMs in electoral contests with a stated objective of making them more transparent
  • His plan was shelved by Shehbaz Sharif administration that said the EVMs had high potential for misuse, tampering

ISLAMABAD: The adoption of electronic voting machines (EVMs) could have averted rigging allegations following the recent Pakistani elections, said President Arif Alvi on Saturday, referring to former prime minister Imran Khan’s initiative to rely on technology for enhanced transparency, which was scrapped following his removal from office.
Pakistan’s general elections on February 8 were marked by considerable delays in vote counting and result compilation, fueling suspicions of electoral fraud and prompting protests from various political parties who claimed their mandate had been violated.
In a social media post, Alvi expressed regret that Khan’s endeavors to reform the country’s electoral system were obstructed, contributing to the current situation.
He recalled the extensive efforts for the adoption of EVMs, saying: “Remember ‘our’ long struggle for Electronic Voting Machines. EVM had paper ballots that could be counted separately by hand (like it is being done today) BUT it also had a simple electronic calculator/counter of each vote button pressed. Totals of every candidate would have been available & printed within five minutes of closing of poll.”
“Had EVMs been there today, my dear beloved Pakistan would have been spared this crisis,” he added.

Subsequent to Khan’s government being overturned by a no-confidence vote roughly two years ago, Pakistan’s National Assembly passed the Election Amendment Bill, 2022.
Azam Nazir Tarar, the then-law minister, later elucidated the decision by Shehbaz Sharif’s government, which succeeded Khan’s, mentioning the high risk of misuse and tampering associated with EVMs.
This perspective was also shared by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which is constitutionally tasked with ensuring free, fair and transparent elections.
The Sharif government also decided that Pakistani citizens living abroad would not vote in the elections by using the Internet.