Editorial - E-voting - Sunday, April 10, 2011

With an election under two years away (or less, depending on the durability of the current dispensation) the matter of vote casting and electoral rolls comes into sharper focus. A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking that it direct the Electoral Commission to introduce electronic voting machines in all future general elections. The petitioner further sought that the EC prepare fresh electoral rolls which should both exclude bogus voters and include new voters who can be verified via the NADRA database. Also sought, is a correlation between the data on the electoral roll and the CNIC of each individual, plus their photograph, thus further reducing the chance of electoral fraud. All of this sounds like something of an outbreak of common sense, and is an unusual occurrence on our political scene.

Electronic voting machines are neither new nor rocket-science, and have been around since the 1960s when they were a punch-card system. Today’s e-voting machines are far more sophisticated and have recently, and very successfully, been used in elections in Bangladesh and India. In both of those countries e-voting has been shown to reduce things like multiple vote casting by an individual to an insignificant number, and it has proved virtually impossible to ‘stuff’ an electronic ballot box unlike their paper-based counterparts. At one level, this is nothing but good news for the democratic process in the broadest sense, at another, the introduction of such devices into our own electoral system is likely to face some robust opposition. Those who are used to manipulating both the electoral rolls and the electoral results are unlikely to welcome their activities being curtailed, which e-voting certainly would. We have a long and shameful history of electoral mismanagement and fraud, at every level of the process. All political parties have at one time or another allegedly been privy to fraud. Now is the time to set our house in order. We have a national database that has proved to be something of an asset, and if linked to e-voting in the future, we may find ourselves taking a large step in the direction of a truly functional democracy. Let us hope that this outbreak of common sense is not stifled by those for whom democracy is a dirty word.

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=40927&Cat=8

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