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Electronic voting systems, in different countries

 
Electronic voting systems, in different countries


Abstract

Recent technological developments have opened up the possibility of electronic voting and this clearly provides some opportunities and threats. On the one hand, the new technology may help to make voting more cost-effective and more convenient for the voter and may even increase voter turnout. On the other, e-voting may introduce new risks and affect electoral values, such as the secrecy of the vote and the place of voting as an observable institution in modern democracies. At present various countries and different electoral systems are confronted with these opportunities and threats and the question is what will happen? Will the new technology, with its international standards and its seemingly objective opportunities and threats determine the development and lead to a convergence in voting practices that optimize the benefits? Or, will decisions concerning the application of ICT in the voting process vary as a result of differences in a social context and varying democratic institutions? In this paper, we claim that, based on social theory regarding technology adoption, different countries may very well differ in their attitudes and actual decisions regarding e-voting. When we look at the current developments in Western-European countries, this claim is supported. Decision-making concerning the introduction of e-voting in these rather similar countries is clearly structured by diverging democratic institutions and as a result e-voting developments actually differ. At the last, I discussed an electronic voting system in the case of an upcoming election in Pakistan, whether is it possible or not.

Introduction

Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) system is a simple electronic voting process. In this system, an electronic voting device is used to record votes in place of ballot papers and boxes which were used earlier in the conventional voting systems. The fundamental right to vote or simply voting in elections forms the basis of democracy. In all earlier elections be it state elections or Centre elections a voter used to cast his/her favorite candidate by putting the stamp against his/her name and then folding the ballot paper as per a prescribed method before putting it in the Ballot Box. This is a long, time-consuming process and very much prone to errors. This situation continued tithe ll election scene was completely changed by electronic voting machines. No more ballot paper, ballot boxes, stamping, etc. all this condensed into a simple box called the ballot unit of the electronic voting machine. Because biometric identifiers cannot be easily misplaced, forged, or shared, they are considered more reliable for person recognition than traditional token or knowledge-based methods. So, the electronic voting system has to be improved based on the current technologies viz., biometric system. This article discusses the complete analysis of the electronic system in different countries, their issues, and a comparison among the voting methods and biometric EVM.

Electronic Voting


Analysis of electronic voting systems in various countries

 Recently, the urge for e-voting has been described to be the inevitable future of electioneering in many countries across the world. Few countries have legally adopted the use of e-voting systems to elect who governs their societies while governments from other countries are skeptical about the adoption. Undoubtedly, there were technical questions asked on the acceptance and rejection of e-voting systems. Therefore, the uses of e-voting systems in a few countries were reviewed and presented as follows.                                 

A.   Netherlands

Politically, the Netherlands commenced the electronic voting system in the year 1960. In 1994, the government of the Netherlands started the introduction of electronic voting machines. In 2006, a direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machine was produced. In the municipal elections of March 2006, nearly 99% of the voters polled votes with the use of the voting machine (Nedap ES3B).  The 2019 Dutch provisional elections in the Netherlands had the security-based problem of authentication when a voter was turned back because of an invalid ID card. Imposters could forge a genuine voter’s ID card as well. Also, the Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory (EPROM) of Nedap ES3B could be removed and replaced with a tampered memory to favor a particular contestant. The passwords for authentication could be detected by fraudsters for results’ alteration. The problems of authentication, integrity, secrecy, transparency, convenience, and audibility of e-voting functional and security requirements were identified. Accordingly, a novel on electronic voting in the Netherlands is required for a fair and credible election.

B.   United States of America (USA)

The United States of America (USA) is a country of 50 states with a population of about 326 million. There were voting technologies and approaches adopted in the USA for voting. These technologies are Direct Recording Electronic (DRE), Optical Scan, and Hybrid Voting Machines.  In October 2016 the United States accused the government of Russia of cybersecurity interference in the US election. Politically, Russia was alleged to have “rigged” the US 2016 presidential election to favor a Republican nominee, Donald Trump by tampering with digital ballots.  According to the information made available, the US voters’ registration database needed to be highly protected from potentially fraudulent or abnormal activity. In addition, moved for the need to fully integrate biometric technology into the voting system in USA voting process. The US 2016 election had an issue of reliability in the entire process. Principally, reliability is one of the security requirements, thus there is no way security and functional requirements of the e-voting system could be compromised for personal gains. Furthermore, every e-voting system ought to satisfy the security and functional requirements for a credible election. With these controversies, basic security and functional requirements of e-voting needed to be satisfied for credible elections in the US.

C.   India

 India is the seventh-largest country by area, and the second-most populous country with over 1.3 billion people. In India, an Aadhaar card and fingerprint are major credentials for authentication.  There must be a match between already stored credentials and credentials presented on the day of the election before a voter could proceed to poll a vote for a particular contestant. This approach calls for a high cost of implementation as the production of biometric Aadhaar cards is economically expensive. Also, the transmission of sensitive results over the unprotected network was not protected against alteration. This implies that the results were disposed to interception and alteration. Here again, the voting system in India required attention and a novel approach that tackles election malpractices and security challenges. In India, Aadhaar cards are regularly presented to voters at no cost after successful enrolment. However, any correction after the enrolment attracts fees between RS50 and RS500 (i.e.  USD0.72 and USD7.19). This could negatively affect poor citizens to participate in an election thereby promoting a low turnout of voters and increasing the chances of unlawful results manipulations. Furthermore, the cost of producing Aadhaar cards for authentication is higher than non-biometric-based cards. This is capital-intensive to design, implement and distribute the Aadhaar kits to all the polling booths needed for a specified election.  The production and distribution of free biometric-based Aadhaar cards to voters are principally the responsibilities of the government and the funds could have been used to develop the country economically. There should be a highly secure but economically cheaper approach to authenticate voters where voters need not make any payment for collection even after successful enrolment.

D.   Zurich

 Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Z├╝rich. Zurich used a voting system called the Unisys Internet voting system that was launched in 2002, this system was first used in a student election, and after its success, it was subsequently used in the public election in Baloch in 2005. The voters could either vote via a personal computer or via SMS, but later on, in 2007, the SMS channel was discontinued. Encryption techniques were used to secure votes polled by voters. E-voting in Canton Zurich.

E.   Brazil

 Brazil officially known as the Federative Republic of Brazil is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. Brazil introduced electronic voting during the 1996 municipal elections. That year, voters in state capitals and cities with more than two hundred thousand voters used the first electronic polling stations. The electronic polling station used Advanced Encryption Technique (AET). However, presented a detailed and up-to-date security analysis of the voting software used in Brazilian elections. The finding revealed the most in-depth compromise of an official large-scale voting system ever performed.

F.    Estonia

Estonia, a country in Northern Europe, borders the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland. , Estonia was the first country in the world to introduce a nationwide Internet voting system. In the Estonian I-voting system, citizens that want to cast their vote would use National ID cards and mobile ID on web site for authentication. Estonian system general architecture All votes are recorded and provisionally stored on Vote Forwarding Server until the completion of the election. The resulting encrypted votes were then burned onto Digital Versatile Discs (DVDs). The DVDs are then transferred to the Vote Counting Server, an air-gapped machine that contains the election private key. The counting of votes was carried out by the counter server after successful decryption. The rigging is possible as encryption and decryption techniques raise suspicion of the sensitive results. Thus, a novel e-voting system is required.

G.  Namibia

The Republic of Namibia is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. In 2014, Namibia became the first African country to conduct a national election using electronic voting. The voting system used the voter’s fingerprint and Voter Verification Devices (VVD) for authentication as guided by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN). Integration of the VVPAT feature in the e-voting system creates room for votes buying and selling by corrupt politicians and voters. Thus, the requirement of a vote’s confirmation (verifiability) is not suitable for a credible and fair election in most parts of the world.

H.  Nigeria

The Federal Republic of Nigeria commonly referred to as Nigeria is a federal republic in West Africa, bordering Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast in the south lies on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. In 2015, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) introduced Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and card reader for accreditation. Once a voter had been accredited, then a ballot paper with printed contestants’ party logo would be presented for expression of choice by the voter. However, election malpractices such as rigging, false voting, and false declaration of the winner were identified in the 2019 general election. There is a need to fully automated the voting system. On Saturday, May 12, 2018, the government of Kaduna State, Nigeria made history with the use of the EMP2710 e-voting machine developed by a Chinese company, EMPTECH. On the day of the election, the voters were accredited with the use of a Permanent Voters Card (PVC). Afterward, the voters electronically voted for the chosen party and candidate by selecting and pressing the appropriate icon on the screen of the EMP2710 machine. When the voting exercise ended, an electoral officer brought out printed ballot papers from the machine for manual counting among party agents and officials. The EVM (EMP2710) deployed for voting in Kaduna State's 2018 local government election made the voting process faster than the traditional paper balloting system and achieved the convenient functional requirement of the -voting system. However, the polling officers could unlawfully thumb-print the ballot papers to favor a candidate. The genuine votes by the genuine voters could be replaced with false thumb-printed ballot papers by the polling officers or agents of the political parties. Despite the use of PVC and card readers for accreditation, there was no electronic link between the number of accredited voters and the number of votes polled by the voters.

FUTURE WORK

The researchers have commenced a strategy to develop a secured electronic voting system using fingerprint biometric and visual semagram techniques that would tackle all the drawbacks presented in this paper and satisfy e-voting functional and security requirements towards achieving credible elections at all levels. I have elaborated in this paper, on the upcoming election in Pakistan.

Pakistan

Possibility of the electronic voting system in the upcoming general election

 The Prime Minister of Pakistan desired to introduce electronic voting machines (EVMs) and to enable online voting facilities (e-voting) to non-resident Pakistanis in the upcoming general election of 2023. On 1 April 2021, the Federal Minister of Science and Technology presented a report to the Prime Minister on the use of EVMs for conducting fair and transparent elections in Pakistan, demonstrating five types of EVMs of which two were imported and three EVMs were to be locally manufactured. A senior official of the ECP in conversation with Dawn said that “the EVMs presented to the Prime Minister by the Ministry of Science and Technology were nine years old and unreliable. Report on pilot testing conducted on latest EVMs was submitted to the parliament by ECP.” On 9th May 2021, the President of Pakistan promulgated the Elections (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2021(Amendment Ordinance, 2021) authorizing and binding the ECP for procurement of EVMs enabling e-voting for overseas Pakistanis while staying in the country of residence in the next general elections. The Amendment Ordinance, 2021 was promulgated in violation of Article 89 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 (Constitution) as no emergency render it necessary to promulgate the Amendment Ordinance, 2021 only two days after the National Assembly Speaker had constituted a committee of the cabinet members to engage the opposition on the issue of electoral reforms. The Chief Election Commissioner on 20th May 2021 told the newspaper's reporters that the ECP carried out pilot projects on electronic voting and submitted its report to the Federal Government in December 2018 for conducting an audit of the EVMs and online voting process transparently. The Ministry of Information Technology of the Federal Government assigned the task of audit on the said report to the Spanish firm (Minsait). The said audit firm has to submit the audit report by 31 May 2021. ECP under the supervision of the Secretary, ECP constituted a committee for the procurement of EVMs to enable e-voting for overseas Pakistanis and to forward its recommendations in the next meeting. ECP Committee in its earlier report submitted in September 2010 on the “Use of Electronic Voting Machines in Pakistan (EVM Committee)” analyzed financial, legal, and political dynamics involved in Pakistani elections, and recommended:

(i)                 Legislative changes to enable the conduct of electronic voting or counting to be pursued urgently to facilitate the pilot project.

(ii)                Full implications of using electronic voting and counting technologies in Pakistan be assessed through the work of the VM Commithe tee and consultations. Considering that electronic voting and counting solutions meet the needs of Pakistan, a full assessment of their suitability be further explored through the conduct of a pilot project.

(iii)             The EVM pilot project should be conducted during forthcoming local government elections. In order to test the use of electronic voting, counting machines, supporting management, and results tabulation systems, the pilot project be conducted incomplete electoral jurisdictions. Local government elections provide a good opportunity for doing this with minimal investment in electronic voting and counting machines as the electoral constituency, the Union Council, is relatively small. One or more Union Councils should be selected to pilot the use of the selected EVM.

(iv)             The ECP may begin the process to procure EVMs required to conduct pilot projects. Quotations be issued to the leading EVM vendors for the supply of machines for the pilot project.

(v)               Comprehensive consultation with stakeholders, to assess their reactions to using EVMs and survey of voters to determine their experiences of using the machines. On completion of assessments and surveys, the ECP may meet the stakeholders to discuss the pilot project and determine the next steps, if any, on the use of EVMs in Pakistan.

(vi)             Local hi-tech universities and research institutions be encouraged to conduct research and development for the production of locally made EVMs meeting requirements as per ISO standards.

The EVM Committee in the said report estimated the cost of a single unit of the cheapest EVMs meeting all their requirements of electronic voting to be USD 1,250/- per unit. Approximately 200,000 units were required to be deployed all across Pakistan for the general elections 2013 making the total cost USD 250 million excluding the cost of transportation, installation, and training of the officers employed for the electronic voting process. The total number of registered voters at the time of the said report was 76,194,802. The ECP in October 2020 released the data of the final electoral rolls (FERs), showing the total number of registered voters to be 115.748753 million who may cast votes in the upcoming general election of 2023. It means the cost of conducting elections through EVMs may be ten times more than the initially estimated cost by the EVMs Committee in 2010. The Federal Minister for Science and Technology while briefing the Prime Minister of Pakistan on 1 April’ 2021 claimed that EVM was manufactured by his ministry in collaboration with the COMSATS and the National Institute of Electronics. It is to be noted that neither the Ministry of Science and Technology nor the National Institute of Electronics manufactured EVMs. During the presentation of the prototype of EVMs before the parliamentary committee on 19th May 2021, the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Adviser to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs declined to give an estimated cost stating that the manufacturers of EVMs have not entered into the commercial production phase. All governments including the present government admitted manipulation, rigging, political interferences, and threatening polling officers in the local, provincial, and national elections. In 2017, the Federal Government to amend, consolidate and unify all laws relating to the conduct of elections enacted the Elections Act, 2017 where sections 94 and section 103 were introduced delegating power to ECP for conducting pilot projects for voting in bye-elections.

ECP after ascertaining technical efficacy, secrecy, security, and financial feasibility for e-voting in bye-elections was to submit its report to the Government. The Government had to lay the report before both Houses of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) within fifteen days after the receipt of the report. No such report has ever been presented before both the Houses of Majlis-e-Shoora. ECP may conduct bye-elections (not general elections) for overseas Pakistanis after taking into consideration the efficacy, secrecy, security, and financial feasibility of holding elections by e-voting. India and Pakistan have a resemblance in their administrative, managerial, social, political, and economic factors. Both countries are highly populated. The rate of literacy and development of IT infrastructure is more or less the same. India started experimenting with EVMs in the year 1999 in a local election. General elections of 2013 were held by using EVMs in limited constituencies. In the year 2018, India completely switched towards EVMs from traditional paper balloting to e-voting. The EVM Committee of ECP recommended legislative changes and allocation of funds in the budget for the procurement &maintenance of EVMs and for holding upcoming general elections. In terms of section 94 sub-section (1) of the Election Act, 2017 (Act, 2017), the ECP may conduct pilot projects for voting for Overseas Pakistanis in bye-elections to ascertain technical efficacy, secrecy, security and financial feasibility of such voting and shall share the results with the Government, within fifteen days from the commencement of a session of a House after the receipt of the report, lay the same before both Houses of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).

 It is pertinent to note that under the Act, 2017, ECP may conduct pilot projects for voting in bye-elections (not in general elections). In terms of section 103 of the Act, 2017, the Commission may conduct pilot projects for the utilization of electronic voting machines and biometric verification systemin bye-elections and submit a financial feasibility report of the EVMs and biometric verification system and to lay it before both the Houses of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament). No such report has been placed before the houses of Parliament. Both the provisions of sections 94 and 103 of Act, 2017 speak of bye-elections and not general elections. The upcoming elections cannot be held by e-voting unless amendment in sections 94 and 103 is made and proper fund required for the preliminary installation of EVMs and carrying out the first elections online is allocated. The process of elections via e-voting is as expensive and as complicated exercise as defending a war. It cannot be dealt with as a sudden switch over to new technology. It has to be done in small phases, starting from local elections on a limited scale and after accomplishing satisfactory e-voting results it should be introduced on a larger scale in general elections.

IMPOSSIBILITY OF USE OF EVM AND E-VOTING BY PAKISTANI FOREIGN EXPATRIATES IN UPCOMING ELECTIONS

Aga Faquir Mohammad Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan For the purpose of election of both houses of the Majlis-e-Shoora(Parliament) and the provincial assemblies, a permanent Election Commission(ECP) constituted under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973(Constitution) as a statutory body consisting of a Chief Commissioner as the Chairman of the Commission and four members one from each Province who has been a judge of a High Court or a senior civil servant or a technocrat. The Chief Commissioner of ECP is appointed by the President of Pakistan, the head of the State. The duties of the ECP are to organize, conduct and ensure elections of the National Assembly, Provincial Assemblies, the Senate, and local bodies honestly, justly, and fairly by law, to guard against corrupt practices, political interference in elections, to appoint Election Tribunals, to perform other functions as may be specified by the Act of parliament; to make election rules by the approval of the President of Pakistan; to prepare electoral rolls & rules as to the residence of the candidate in the constituency and all other matters necessary for the constitution of both the houses and the provincial assemblies. The executive authorities of the Federation and the provinces are to assist ECP in the discharge of duties. The Prime Minister and the Federal Ministers being the executive authorities of the State have to assist the election commission in the discharge of its functions by law. The Prime Minister and the Ministers cannot interfere in the performance of the ECP. ECP constituted a committee in the year 2010 on the “Use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in Pakistan” for analyzing financial, legal, and political involvement in the upcoming elections. The Committee recommended legislative changes in the existing laws of Pakistan and suggested the use of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) on small scale as a pilot project during forthcoming local government elections to test the use of e-voting, counting machines, supporting management, and results tabulation systems. On the recommendation of the ECP committee report of 2010, the National Assembly made changes in the then-existing election laws by enacting the Election Act, 2017 amending, consolidating, and unifying all laws relating to the conduct of elections. In the year 2021, the President of Pakistan in violation of the Constitution promulgated the Elections (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2021authorizing ECP for procurement of EVMs and enabling e-voting services for overseas Pakistanis / foreign expatriates in the upcoming general elections of2023. As per the amendments in section 94 and section 103, overseas Pakistanis are to vote online through e-voting services during the upcoming general elections while staying in the country of residence with the technical assistance of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA); empowering ECP for procuring EVMs for the casting of votes in the upcoming general elections. The said Amendment Ordinance, 2021 was presented before the National Assembly in the form of a Bill and was passed without providing the proper opportunity of debating the conduct of free and fair elections by the members of the National Assembly. The Bill is pending before the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs. Mr. Fawad Chaudhry, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, and Mr. Babar Awan the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs presented the prototype of EVM at the Parliament House, Islamabad on 19th May 2021. The electronic voting machine so presented was claimed to be locally made by Ministry for Science and Technology in collaboration with COMSATS University Islamabad and the National Institute of Electronics (NIE). It is pertinent to note that the above-stated institutions are for teaching, learning, research, and discovery only. These institutions are not for manufacturing any electronic devices including EVM under their respective Institutional Charters. A senior official of the ECP claimed that the machine presented to the Prime Minister was nine years old and “unreliable”. The Federal Minister of Science and Technology, Shibli Faraz in August 2021 admitted that “the EVM as presented by Mr. Fawad Chaudhry, the then Minister of Science &Technology on 31 March 2021 was developed in 2014 and it did not meet the required specifications of the ECP”.

 Appropriate disciplinary action should have been taken against the Federal Minister, Fawad Chaudhry for misleading the Prime Minister on the matter of EVM. Mr. Shibli Faraz, the Federal Minister for Science & Technology briefed Prime Minister Imran Khan on 5th August 2021 of a new Pakistan-made EVM claiming that the new machine is 98% accurate and in line with the ECP specifications. The Minister further claimed that EVMs are being developed using indigenous technologies at half the cost of imported devices by the National University for Science and Technology, Comsats, and National Institute of Engineering (NIE) For holding upcoming general elections of overseas Pakistani, the ECP has to consider financial and legal aspects as well as inter-government relations between Pakistan and the countries of residence of overseas Pakistanis. The population of a total number of overseas Pakistani was estimated to be around 8.8 million settled in 118 countries including those who have migrated as well as those who are born of Pakistani descent. NADRA has to revise the ‘Overseas Voters List’ after deleting those overseas voters who are deceased; who have surrendered Pakistan nationality; non-Pakistani immigrants who registered fraudulently in the NADRA database. Major challenges to be considered for conducting e-voting or external voting for overseas Pakistanis by the Federal Government are that:

·         E-voting by non-resident Pakistan implies great financial cost; greater effort per voter; guarantee of maintaining secret voting; prevention of fraud; electoral registration; election campaigning; voter information &education; and the overall cost to the host country of facilitating the external voting program. Electoral management bodies may not be able to fulfill their functions autonomously in foreign host countries. The electoral management for e-voting by non-resident Pakistani will cost heavily in foreign exchange. Organization of Overseas Voter Registration may adversely affect the Pakistan economy. Collaboration has to be made with institutions of the host countries and concerned authorities of Pakistan.

·         Electoral disputes may involve organizational problems. The ECP will have to provide facilities catering to the issue of alleged irregularities in voting and resolve rigging complaints by overseas Pakistanis. Necessary amendments in the Election Act will have to be enacted. In my earlier published paper on the “Possibility of Electronic Voting in upcoming General Elections of Pakistan,” allocation of proper funds necessary for preliminary installation of EVMs was discussed and the paper was published on online forums including Academia.edu.com and the same was debated among the scholar panel. The Federal Government allocated USD 500 million in the Annual Budget 2021-22 for procurement and other expenses for holding upcoming general elections, electronically. Mr. Babar Awan, the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs, and Mr. Shahbaz Gill, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication announced in a press conference held on 2nd September 2021 in Islamabad that the general elections-2023 would be held transparently and fairly and vowed to get the legislation on the use of EVMs and e-voting for the overseas Pakistanis passed by the end of this year without opposition’s support. Mr. Advisor further informed the press that the NADRA had sought Rs. 2.2 billion for providing technical support for e-voting.

·         The Advisor on Parliamentary Affairs referred to successful electoral procedures in India conducted through electronic voting machines and claimed that Pakistan can have the same successful results through EVMs. Such statements were made by the Advisor being ill-informed. India started working on an electronic voting machine in 1989 and the first EVM was developed and tested by the state-owned Electronics Corporation of India and Bharat Electronics in the 1990s. The Election Commission of India (ECI) in consultations with the Indian courts, experts, and volunteer feedback from different political parties, developed a database of thumb impressions and electronic voting machines. The EVM was first used in 1982 in the by-election on an experimental basis. India did not use electronic voting machines in the general elections as late as 2003 on a phased basis and non-resident Indians are still not able to cast their votes while staying in their country of residence. India has still not made EVMs available for overseas Indians to cast their votes citing “compromise of secrecy of voting” and “lack of logistical wherewithal to handle attestation for a large number of overseas electors by diplomatic missions” as major reasons behind the decision. The ECP submitted objections to the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs on 8th September 2021 before voting on two controversial bills seeking to amend the elections act. The objections raised by the ECP are as under

·         The time is too short for a large-scale procurement and deployment of EVMs and imparting training to a massive number of operators.

·         Monitoring electronic voting polls on one day as required under the law would be nearly impossible.

·         Lack of ballot secrecy.

·         Lack of capacity at all levels and lack of ensuring security and chain of custody for EVMs at rest and during transportation.

·         There would be no evidence available in case of an election dispute.

·         Data integration and configuration issues may crop up due to a court order at the eleventh hour regarding a change in the ballot paper.

·         Absence of dust and humid-free controlled temperature environment warehouse for storage of EVM.

·         Huge learning curve was required for technical operators.

·         No consensus among the stakeholders on EVM which was also not financially feasible.

·         EVM cannot prevent low voter polling staff turnout and low women’s turnout.

·         EVM cannot counter misuse of state authority, election fraud, electronic ballot stuffing, vote buying, law and order disruption, dishonest pollingstaff, widespread political and electoral violence, and abuse of state resources could not be prevented by EVMs.

·         Lack of consensus among the stakeholders will cause problems for EVMs if introduced in undue haste.

·         In case of the introduction of the technology in haste, the conduct of free, fair, credible, and transparent elections as per the Constitution was not possible.

·         EVM presented by the Federal Ministry is susceptible to manipulation through radio device and fall short to address the issues of counting of votes and transmission of results.

·         Amendments in Election Act, 2017 lacked critical questions about voting by overseas Pakistanis, including the responsibility of their registration as voters and allocation to the constituency and mechanism for the ECP to enforce the legal requirements as provided for under sections 30 and 37 of the Election Act, 2017.

·         Approximately 0.8 million EVMs would have to be procured for the purpose of electronic voting in general elections in 2023, this would require a constitutional amendment.

The ECP in its objection remarked that in the case of the hasty introduction of EVM, the conduct of free, fair, credible, and transparent elections in Pakistan as per the Constitution is not possible. The Federal Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz announced at a press conference held on 9th September 2021 that the “legislative process for machine introduction and for overseas Pakistanis’ right to vote would be completed this month and everybody would be bound to obey the law once it’s enacted”.

 The Federal Minister is unaware that the Minister has to obey the Constitution of Pakistan. The invitation from the Minister to all political parties to get error-free machines, developed by his ministry for examination by technical experts is an illegal and unconstitutional act. It is not the duty of any Minister or any leader of the political party to assess the EVMs. Such an act is unconstitutional. Mr. Minister of Science & Technology is unaware that any law passed by the legislatures can be struck off by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. If the such statement by administer was passed in another democratic country, that minister would have been made to resign. Such irresponsible statements led to the image of Pakistan in the world as a democratic country. The declaration of the Federal Minister may amount to contempt of court under the Constitution. The Advisor to the Prime Minister is a constitutional post. The Advisor is not equivalent to the post of Federal Minister. An Advisor to the Prime Minister is not a member of the Cabinet nor can they participate in the cabinet proceedings. He cannot be a member or even chair the Committee of the Cabinet. An Advisor can address the parliament but cannot participate in the voting process. Holding the upcoming general election haphazardly on the advice of the Advisors who do not have any specialized knowledge of electrical & digital technology and interfering in the constitutional duties of the ECP will cause a constitutional crisis and upcoming general elections-2023 will be marred with controversies. This will eventually lead to a proclamation of emergency under Article 235 of the Constitution.

 CONCLUSION

This paper presented a critical review of several studies on e-voting systems and a few countries with the use of electronic voting systems. The methods, tools, results, strengths, and limitations (weaknesses) were identified and studied. The e-voting developed previously to a great extent, could not technically tackle the identified problems of voter impersonation (authentication), confidentiality, integrity, suitability, transparency, convenience, and secrecy. The efforts to prevent corrupt stakeholders such as politicians, election officers, and voters from unlawful activities needed urgent attention for a novel on electronic systems. After a critical review of previous work on e-voting systems, the researchers concluded that a highly secured e-voting system based on research is required towards achieving a credible election and satisfying e-voting security and functional requirements. Conclusively, e-voting systems were constructively, objectively, and logically reviewed and summarized as a piece of relevant information useful for scholarly investigations in academia.


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