Shibli Faraz announces Rs. 1 million award to anyone who can hack the EVM in a bid to challenge ECP’s rejection

In efforts to convert the system, the government has produced 400,000 machines locally.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf aims to transform the traditional voting system into electoral.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf aims to transform the traditional voting system into electoral.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has been pushing for electoral reforms in Pakistan for a while. The government aims to replace the traditional system of counting paper ballots with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), where a voter can punch in their vote electronically.

In efforts to convert the system, the government has produced 400,000 machines locally. The cost of manufacturing one EVM was estimated between Rs. 75,000-70,000.

The Election Commission of Pakistan is not in favor of EVMs

The Minister of Science and Technology, Shibli Faraz, said:

The ECP sent a 37-point objection letter to the government about EVMs, in which as many as 27 points were not even related to EVMs — they were about the ECP’s capacity to use them. Only 10 points were in direct objection to the electronic voting machine.

The Minister further shared that the ECP’s technical team held its first meeting over the EVMs, demanding various reports regarding the machines. The Ministry of Science and Technology provided them with almost all the reports they had sought and promised to submit the remaining reports in the coming days.

However, after studying the data, the ECP claimed that EVMs could not stop rigging in elections and rejected the government’s proposal to use them during polls.

Why did the ECP reject EVMs?

In a document submitted to the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, the ECP said:

EVMs cannot be used to conduct free and transparent elections in line with the Constitution. It can be hacked, easily tampered with, and the software can be easily changed. The machine can misuse state power, and it cannot prevent horse trading.

The ECP further highlighted:

There is no secrecy of the voter in the electronic voting machine; there is a lack of transparency; testing time before the next general election is less; stakeholders are not on board; people have not been taken into confidence. Moreover, we do not have enough funding to roll out the machines throughout the country as they are expensive.

"Electronic Voting Machines can't be hacked," says Shibli Faraz.
“Electronic Voting Machines can’t be hacked,” says Shibli Faraz.

Shibli Faraz challenges ECP’s claims

Speaking to a media outlet on Friday, the Minister for Science and Technology stated:

A person who can hack the locally manufactured electronic voting machine (EVM) will receive Rs. 1 million. We will challenge hackers to hack the electronic voting machine, and if they can hack it, we will present them with an award of Rs. 1 million.

Justifying the need for EVMs, Shibli Faraz further stated:

There is no easier way to cast a vote than the EVM. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should not put itself in a controversial position by expressing that it does not want to conduct elections through the EVM.

With the latest challenge by Shibli Faraz, the electoral reforms in Pakistan are bound to take a new turn. While the ECP is still intent on rejecting the use of EVMs, the outcome of the challenge may give the authority something to think about.

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