Politicized Discourse around EVM
The discourse around electronic voting machines (EVMs) is heavily politicized. Stakeholders have taken up diametrically opposite positions. Proponents believe EVMs will fix structural issues in Pakistan’s elections and restore trust in a fundamentally broken process. On other hand, opponents contend that EVMs do not inspire confidence.
Easily be hacked and Astronomical deployment costs? That’s half the story of EVM!
They can easily be hacked to manipulate election results. They have been phased out in technologically advanced countries, and the deployment costs are expected to be astronomical. These points are valid, but they only tell half the story, and it is little wonder the mainstream discourse has stalled.
I was part of a team at NUST that recently concluded a research project aimed at depolarizing the EVM debate. This project, funded by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics RASTA grants program, addressed popular misconceptions around EVMs and provided a rigorous framework to ground the discourse and spell out a roadmap to deploy EVMs in Pakistan.
EVMs can be made to work for Pakistan
EMB believes that the EVM debate, contentious as it is, can be resolved in a way that highlights the positive automation benefits of EVMs and minimizes the security issues, costs, and other negatives. EVMs can be made to work for Pakistan, provided that EMB address various critical research gaps in our understanding of these machines.
And here EMB encounters an unfortunate and inescapable truth: whenever election technology – be it EVMs, Internet voting, or result transmission systems – are deployed without the necessary homework and due diligence, these systems are likely to fail. This results in costly and internationally embarrassing mistakes and risks undermining vital trust in election results and government for years to come. This point cannot be emphasized enough.
EMB witnessed this themselves in 2018 with the failure of the Result Transmission System (RTS) at the critical hour on the eve of the election. The RTS was hastily deployed without any transparency features or adequate pilot runs. Likewise, the Internet voting system developed indigenously for overseas Pakistanis in 2018 featured structural and elementary problems and failed security audits twice. There had been no homework or study of international best practices in this domain.
New-type EVM will come from Integelec
In fact, Integelec are also promoting a new-type EVM aiming at EMBs with limited budgets. Due to the pandemic influence, election is becoming more and more expansive, our new EVM will have a good perform in providing cost-effectiveness for EMBs globally. Plz stay tuned for our new EVM next month.
Post time: 21-07-22