Online votes for overseas Pakistanis on cards
ISLAMABAD: With the Supreme Court’s approval, the country’s biggest database manager has started working on the development of an integrated internet voting system aimed at extending the right of franchise to over seven million Pakistanis living abroad in time for the next general elections.
According to a presentation given by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to the apex court on Wednesday, a three-tier electronic mechanism – named the Internet Voting System for Overseas Pakistanis – will be developed at a cost of Rs150 million and within a period of four months. The ECP would provide the required funds for the project.
The three-tier internet voting mechanism includes voter registration and verification, vote casting procedures, and results compilation and audit.
After the creation of a web portal, according to the plan, voters living abroad will register themselves as overseas voters. Upon entering the web portal, users will be asked to enter their National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (Nicop) number and other details.
Following registration, voter’s verification will be started using the databases of NADRA, the ECP, and the Passport departments and through some secret questions related to the family tree of every individual.
Once initial voter verification is completed, they would be interviewed through electronic means by representatives of the Election Commission of Pakistan. In case of a successful interview, the system would generate a ‘successful registration email’ to the overseas voter.
They would then be issued a secure voter ID for polling day.
On polling day in Pakistan, overseas Pakistanis would cast their vote as per their registration for i-voting as per electoral rolls. The ECP will be required to register overseas Pakistanis in their home constituencies in fresh electoral rolls.
On polling day, overseas Pakistanis would log on to a website and enter their secret voter IDs, which will be communicated to overseas voters on polling day.
After logging in, the voter would select a National Assembly or Provincial Assembly ballot option and select from a list of candidates for their constituency.
The third and final phase of the process will cover result compilation and audit. An internet polling booth will be established in every constituency and returning officers will have access to e-voting results in each constituency at the end of polling time in Pakistan.
The electronic system will be secured through a firewall, intrusion detection system, and intrusion prevention system.
NADRA has suggested that it would provide technical training to ECP staff.
After hearing all the details from NADRA officials about the proposed voting system, the chief justice of Pakistan observed that he was ready to contribute his three-month salary to develop that system that would cost around Rs150 million.
The CJP also appreciated the efforts of NADRA in this regard.
Senior PTI leader Dr Arif Alvi, who was a member of the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms, which debated overseas voting rights for almost three years, said he was ready to voluntarily resign from his National Assembly seat if NADRA wants to pilot test the internet voting system in one constituency.
“PTI is ready to support NADRA politically and financially to help introduce this plan which would give voices to over seven million Pakistanis living abroad,” Alvi said.