“Elections are the lifeblood of democracies. Unfortunately, rigging has been a constant theme in elections throughout the world. This suspicion tends to erode the confidence of citizens in the political process, creates political animosity, and undermines democracy, and has at times even led to civil war. In Pakistan, elections are routinely tainted by systemic poll rigging and/or allegations of such, which has led to political deadlock and mass protests, in the recent past. Procedural inefficiencies also run rife in the electoral system. There is a dire need to renew citizens’ confidence in democracy and government institutions.
Recent breakthroughs in Election Technology, specifically Verifiable Voting technology, powered by cutting edge cryptography, mean for the first time, voters and observers can partake in verifying an election and certifying its results. Verifiable voting has garnered immense attention internationally and has been called the holy grail of electronic voting.
Unfortunately, Pakistan is lacking research and development efforts, in the domain of Election technology. Elections present an anomalous situation. Where development of most applications can be outsourced, Election technology as a critical application requires national ownership and responsibility. Pakistan also differs considerably from advanced countries in terms of resources, infrastructure, political and social environment, facilities, and funding, and it is not straightforward to adapt existing systems and frameworks for our use. There is significant research that needs to be done at the confluence of technology and policy, about how to fit Verifiable Voting concepts and theoretical constructs into the various contexts of a developing democracy like Pakistan.
We intend to undertake a study that will identify the research and policy challenges of adapting Verifiable Voting in Pakistan and devise a comprehensive roadmap to introduce verifiable voting technology in Pakistan. We believe it will be an important contribution towards a more transparent, inclusive, and efficient electoral system in Pakistan.”