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Pakistan President Arif Alvi reacts to election results: ‘Had EVMs been there…’

Pakistan President Arif Alvi has claimed that had Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) been used during the general elections, held on February 8, the nation would not be facing the current crisis, referring to the delay in results. Despite the commission’s lofty claims, the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) new Election Management System (EMS) failed, Geo News reported.

In this photo released by President Office, Pakistan’s President Ariv Alvi casts his vote at a polling station during the country’s parliamentary elections, in Karachi, Pakistan, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. (AP)

“Remember ‘our’ long struggle for Electronic Voting Machines. EVM had paper ballots that could be counted separately by hand (like it is being done today) BUT it also had a simple electronic calculator/counter of each vote button pressed. Totals of every candidate would have been available & printed within five minutes of closing of poll. The entire effort that included more than 50 meetings at the Presidency alone was scuttled. Had EVMs been there today, my dear beloved Pakistan would have been spared this crisis,” Arif Alvi wrote on X (formally Twitter) on Saturday.

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President Alvi recalled the previous PTI-led government’s efforts to implement EVMs, noting that the extensive endeavour, involving over 50 meetings at the presidency alone, was ultimately abandoned.

These remarks from the president come amidst the Election Commission of Pakistan’s ‘failure’ to release the complete election results two days after polling concluded at 5 pm local time on Thursday.

According to Geo News, the president emphasised that if the machines had been utilized, the totals for each candidate would have been readily available and printed within five minutes of the poll closing.

What is EVM?

An EVM is an electronic device designed for recording votes. It comprises two main units: a control unit and a balloting unit, which are connected by a five-metre cable. The control unit is typically positioned with the presiding officer or a polling officer, while the balloting unit is placed inside the voting compartment. Instead of providing a traditional ballot paper, the polling officer controlling the control unit releases a ballot by pressing the ballot button. This allows the voter to cast their vote by pressing the blue button on the Balloting Unit corresponding to the candidate and symbol of their choice.

EVMs are not reliant on electricity and operate using a standard battery.

The Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is an additional system integrated with EVMs to enable voters to verify that their votes have been correctly recorded. When a vote is cast, a slip containing the serial number, name, and symbol of the candidate is printed and displayed through a transparent window for 7 seconds. Subsequently, the printed slip is automatically cut and deposited into the sealed drop box of the VVPAT.

Pakistan election results

Amidst the delay in Pakistan’s election result announcement, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has called for nationwide protests on Sunday ‘to uphold the integrity of the vote’. Following a core committee meeting, the PTI announced plans for peaceful protests nationwide to safeguard the sanctity of the electoral process.

Led by Imran Khan, the PTI-backed independent candidates have secured approximately 100 seats out of the 266 seats in the National Assembly, according to provisional results released by the ECP.

The party alleges that the delayed results are a deliberate tactic aimed at manipulating the outcome in favour of other candidates.

These results signify a setback for Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), who was perceived as the frontrunner before the polls and enjoyed support from the Pakistani military.

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