ECP takes major initiative to introduce biometrics and EVMs on trial basis: Secretary

ECP takes major initiative to introduce biometrics and EVMs on trial basis: Secretary

ISLAMABAD: (APP) Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has taken an initiative to equip itself with the latest facilities of biometric and electronic voting systems which would be used during by-elections on trial basis.

Once these EVMs and BVMs machines are delivered by vendors, the same will be used in multiple pilot testing in upcoming bye-elections to see their results, Secretary ECP, Babar Yaqub Fateh Muhammad said this while addressing a contract signing ceremony held to procure Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) here on Friday.

Director General (Admin) and Chairman ECP Internal Committee on EVMs and Biomatric Voting Machines (BVMs), Brig (Retd) Abbas Ali and Chief Executive Officer of M/s Smartmatic International Holding inked the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations for procurement of 150 EVMs.

Giving details, the Secretary ECP said an international tender was floated to acquire EVMs and BVMs last year and six vendors of EVMs and five vendors of BVMs participated during bidding process.

The companies participated included Smartmatic, Secure Tech, Indra, Reliance (Scytl), National Institute of Electronics (NIE) and National Institutional Facilitation Technologies (NIFT).

He said out of them three firms of EVMs were technically qualified i.e. Smartmatic, Indra and Reliance (Scytl) whereas two BVM firms were technically qualified i.e. M/s Secure Tech and M/s Indra.

There were three international vendors applied named as Smartmatic, Indra and Scytl during the said international tendering process.

Talking to media-persons, Babar Yaqub Fateh Muhammad said all stakeholders like voters, parliamentarians, media, civil society organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations (NG0s), observers and general public will be invited to witness testing of these new technologies to attain aspect of inclusiveness and joint consensus.

He said this is a pilot project and ECP wanted to see the results by using the system in bye-elections and added at later stage ECP would decide to use EVMs and BVMs in general elections keeping in view their all merits and demerits.

However, he said, it would cost around Rs. 35 billion for more than 0.3 million polling stations, which is a huge amount.

Replying to a question, he said quality of EVMs an BVMs is our top priority and in this regard a committee having experts from different organizations was also constituted.

He said training of election officers and staff, general awareness of voters and better coordination of ECP staff with voters was also part of pilot project to introduce new system in the country.

The Secretary said introduction of electronic voting machines and biometric system was part of bringing reforms in electoral system and the decision has been taken after feedback of previous elections. The ECP had consulted with all stakeholders over the proposed reforms, he added.