Nadra develops $1.5m software for voters abroad

In compliance with a Supreme Court order, the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has devised software to help 4.5 million overseas Pakistanis cast their votes in the upcoming general elections. Over 150 polling stations will be set up at various Pakistani embassies around the world. However, approval of the Election Commission of Pakistan and cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be required to prepare required legislation.

Nadra chairman Tariq Malik said at a news conference that a detailed briefing would be given to ECP on the software on Monday and if the ECP approved it, a briefing would be arranged for the Supreme Court.

The chairman said that almost 70% of overseas Pakistanis were living in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf where there a ban on political gatherings and rallies is in place. Therefore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would have to get special permission for polling processes in those countries, he added.

“Permission from those countries and travel arrangements of NADRA officers have to be completed by April 5 because establishment of polling stations for e-voting will be a lengthy process. One computer, printer, thumb digitiser and secure internet connection will be required at every polling station,” he said.

Mr. Malik said overseas Pakistanis would get the facility of e-voting through embassies. Polling stations will be set up in designated missions. A biometric system will also be installed in the poling stations to avoid casting of bogus votes.

On polling day voters will have to come to the polling station. They will be required to produce machine readable passports and National Identity Cards. The process of voting will be simple and the vote will be cast in the ECP database without recording identity of the voter.

On completion of polling, the ECP will have electronic results available in its database. Constituency-wise aggregated result will be printed by the ECP and faxed to returning officers for inclusion in preliminary results.

“Although software appears to be safe, it has never been used in Pakistan, so Nadra will suggest that polling for overseas Pakistanis should be arranged two or three days prior to elections,” he said.

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