Saturday, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb called the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) a conspiracy against the constitution. She also called it a plan by the government to rig the next elections.
While addressing a media briefing, Marriyum Aurangzeb lashed out at the threats made by Azam Swati to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Yesterday, Azam Swati accused the ECP of taking bribes and set such institutions should be set on fire.
His anger came as ECP expressed reservations against the EVMs. Azam Swati’s statements sparked outrage among the Opposition, who is already very critical of EVMs.
Read more: Set ECP on fire: Azam Swati
Marriyum Aurangzeb said the EVMs and electoral reforms are a blatant attack on the Constitution. By quoting Article 218, the PML-N spokesperson reiterated the ECP’s responsibility to hold free and fair elections. After that, PML-N’s Marriyum Aurangzeb accused the government of robbing the ECP of its “constitutional right.”
She also recalled that ECP raised three questions on the EVMs’ software and hardware and stated that the machines are not safe. Marriyum Aurangzeb further stressed that no one can introduce election reforms by intimidating others. The PML-N leader also called the Prime Minister House a “headquarter of rigging.”
The PML-N spokesperson then went on a tirade against the electoral reforms “bulldozed” by the PTI government.
The controversy surrounding EVMs
The PTI government is pushing EVMs for the next elections. However, the Opposition strongly rejects EVMs and the electoral reform as it believes they will be conducive to rigging.
Govt’s undue haste in approving the installation of Electronic Voting Machines through a presidential ordinance points to a larger pattern of ignoring Parliament for discussion on serious issues. This disdain for parliamentary delibrations undermines democracy.
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) May 23, 2021
As per the ECP, the machines are not tamper-proof. Hackers can hijack the software. Moreover, the machines are not cost-effective either.
In its document submitted to the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs on Tuesday, the ECP raised concerns over the procurement and deployment of EVMs, along with imparting training to a massive number of operators. ECP said that it was not advisable to introduce EVM nationwide in one go. There are also security issues involving the chain of custody of EVMs.
The main issue the Opposition has is that they claim introducing electoral reforms was not a unanimous decision. They reject the testing of EVMs without the involvement or consultation with the opposition.
Apart from the Opposition and ECP, other people have also expressed concerns regarding EVMs. Journalist Benazir Shah recently came under fire on social media for allegedly spreading fake news on EVMs. She said the EVMs do not ensure secrecy of ballot as it gives a receipt containing details of the voter and who they voted for.
However, another journalist Imran Khan refuted the claims and said the EVMs do not give out voters’ information.
Opposition’s claims are baseless?
In an attempt to address the negativity surrounding EVMs, Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz said his ministry submitted a report to a technical committee of the ECP regarding EVMs which “addressed all the problems.”
While responding to concerns of EVMs software security, Shibli Faraz actually challenged hackers to hack the EVMs.
“We will challenge hackers to hack the electronic voting machine and if they can hack it, we will give them an award of Rs1 million,” the science minister told journalists.
He also told the media that 400,000 machines had been produced locally and the cost of manufacturing per machine was estimated between Rs75,000-70,000.
As for the training of operators, Shibli Faraz said it was ECP’s job.
“You can do training, manufacturing, and deployment in two years but that is not our work, it is the ECP’s,” he added.
It is also important to note that the government has frequently invited the Opposition to test the EVMs themselves.