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Govt should hold referendum on use of electronic voting machines: FAFEN

ISLAMABAD: The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) has recommended the federal government to conduct a referendum on the proportional representation (PR) system and use of electronic voting machines (EVMs).

The FAFEN in its latest statement urged the federal government to desist from any haste in introducing the changes to the Elections Act, 2017, particularly the adaption of electronic voting and biometric machines.

The network also recommended conducting a ‘broader public debate and political discourse on the much-needed electoral reforms’ and urged to conduct a referendum as permissible by the Constitution on such matters of public importance by taking the questions to the Pakistani people as a way to strengthen democracy.

fafen evms pr system referendum election act

The referendum process will allow all political parties to freely take up their positions on the use of technology with Pakistani citizens, it read.

The institution offered that it could present the suggestion if the premier shows a willingness to conduct a referendum, whereas, the recommendation could be presented in a joint session of the Parliament.

fafen evms pr system referendum election act

According to the press release, “First-Past-the-Post System (FPTP) practiced in Pakistan since General Election (GE) 1970 does not translate all votes polled into any representation. It yields a parliament and a government that does not represent a majority. The governments so formed have been weak as they have never represented more than 17 percent of the registered and 46 percent of the polled votes.”

The historical analysis of poll results showed that 53 percent of all votes polled in the general elections 2002 did not translate into any representation, 50 percent in GE 2008, 52 percent in GE 2013, and 57 percent in GE 2018.

fafen evms pr system referendum election act

“Another critical area is voter registration. Unless the voter registry is complete, there cannot be an election that may be considered entirely fair. As many as 12.41 million women continue to be disenfranchised despite an intense effort by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to register them since December 2017.”

“For such issues of public importance, the framers of the Constitution had included the provision of a referendum.”

“Such a step will also give a much-needed sense of political empowerment to Pakistani citizens. Each of them will be part of shaping the framework of future elections in the country.”

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