Pakistan to test biometric verification machines for elections

March 13, 2017 - 

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will acquire electronic voting machines (EVMs) and biometric verification machines (BVMs) for trial run in by-elections that will decide whether or not the technology can be used in the next general election, according to a report by Dawn.

“Once these EVMs and BVMs machines are delivered by vendors in 10 weeks, they will be used in multiple pilot projects in upcoming by-elections to see their results,” ECP Secretary Babar Yaqub Fateh Muhammad said.

Six EVM vendors and five BVM vendors participated in the ECP’s international tender last year. Three companies “technically qualified” for providing EVMs and two vendors for BVMs.

All stakeholders, including voters, lawmakers, media, civil society organisations and observers, would be asked to witness the testing of the new technologies, the ECP secretary said.

Based on the results of the pilot program, the commission will decide on whether to use EVMs and BVMs in general elections, Muhammad said.

He said the quality of the technology was top priority of the government, and has formed a committee consisting of experts from different organizations.

The program will also train election officers and staff, promote a general awareness among voters and better coordinate ECP staff with voters, to introduce a new system in Pakistan.

Muhammad said that implementing these technologies was part of updating the electoral system and the decision had been taken after feedback from previous elections.

Michael Gahler, the head of European Union’s (EU) Follow-up Mission in Pakistan had previously advised the country against introducing electronic voting and biometric voter identification for the next general elections.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.