On Thursday, Pakistan’s National Assembly passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2022, which aims to ban electronic voting machines (EVMs) from general elections and prevent Pakistanis living outside the country from casting votes.
The bill proposed by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Murtaza Javed Abbasi was approved by a wide margin.
Abbasi made a proposal to allow the law to be brought directly to the Senate for approval, bypassing the relevant standing committee, before submitting the bill. With a majority vote, the NA also supported the motion.
The bill will be handed to the Senate tomorrow, according to current estimates.
Debate on EVMs:
According to Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, the bill has enormous significance.
When asked about prior PTI government changes to the Election Act of 2017, he pointed out that EVMs had been approved and Pakistanis living abroad had been granted the right to vote in national elections.
The law minister went on to say that the Pakistani Election Commission has also expressed concerns about the usage of electronic voting machines.
PTI government bulldozed the bill through NA on November 17, 2021, along with 33 other legislations, despite vehement protests from the opposition.
On Thursday morning, Tarar said that the measure was passed by a narrow margin of votes and that the opposition had conducted numerous meetings to analyze it.
Former Nation Assembly Opposition Leader Raja Riaz predicted that electronic voting will be a failure in several regions of the country. As far as internet access goes, “certain locations are still lacking,” he noted.
As a counterargument, GDA politician Ghous Bakhsh Mehr said that electronic voting machines (EVMs) were already in use around the world and that Pakistan should give them a shot. “If not all of the country, then use them in some places,” he suggested.
During the previous government, Jamaat-i- Islami’s Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali stated that the party rejected the law. He went on to say that the bill should be discussed with the ECP and political parties.
“The ECP is not mentioned in this measure. The panel should have been given more authority “he said, underlining the need for party leaders to weigh in on the proposed legislation.