The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has told that internet voting (I-voting) facility will be extended to overseas Pakistanis in coming by-elections in concurrence of Supreme Court orders.

During the Murree multi-party conference on Saturday, leaders of opposition parties expressed reservations over the method for the voting of overseas Pakistanis in the October 14 by-elections and termed it as action in haste. However, the spokesman for the Election Commission, while answering all the arguments, said that the ECP has developed the project to experience and it will not affect the actual results.

The Election Commission spokesperson further said that the Supreme Court has directed the ECP to introduce the Internet voting system in the next elections.

A task force comprising IT experts and constituted by the ECP to explore the possibility of introducing I-voting facility for overseas Pakistanis has recently notified that the system is likely to be infiltrated by foreign governments and intelligence agencies.

A report of the task force made public by the ECP says foreign agencies pose an entirely different class of threat as compared to ordinary hackers. These organizations typically have vast resources and capabilities at their disposal. Their attacks can be extremely stealthy and of a magnitude that is sometimes difficult for a layman to even know.

The report notes that the system does not ensure ballot secrecy as required under Clause 94 of the Elections Act, 2017, and Article 226 of the Constitution. The shortcoming is essential to the suggested design of the internet-voting system.

The ECP in collaboration with Nadra has developed an online voting system for expatriate Pakistanis. Using this system, they will be able to cast their votes in their home constituencies from the comfort of their homes, using any internet-connected device like a personal computer, mobile phone, laptop or tablet.

The ECP had asked the Nadra to register overseas Pakistanis as voters by next month so that they could take part in the upcoming by-polls. Nadra will enroll all eligible overseas Pakistanis by September 15.