LAHORE - Over 24,000 votes were verified through the newly introduced biometric machines in by-elections in the NA-120 constituency, sources told The Nation.

The Election Commission of Pakistan had installed 100 biometric machines at 39 polling stations in the constituency as a pilot project. These machines were installed for the first time in the electoral history of the country. The purpose was to check results and use of these machines before the national elections and replace the old manual system of elections.

According to the sources, 88 per cent of votes cast through biometric machines were verified, but 12 per cent votes could not be verified due to the data provided by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).

Most of the voters, especially elderly women, were surprised to see biometric machines as they had never seen these machines at polling stations in the past. “I used this machine first time in my life,” Ayesha, 56, a resident of Mozang, told The Nation. “I’m happy. Perhaps these machines can help us address rigging and other issues like missing records,” she said.

Azam Ali, 45, said it was good that modern machines had been introduced in the election, but they should be available at all polling stations or the old manual system should be restored. He said there should be one uniformed voting system in the country. “The entire system should be the same; manual or biometric,” said Ali. He however said that that there was no element of surprise in biometric machines for the younger generation.

“Now it is a digital world and people are using the latest gadgets to fulfill their needs,” said Murtaza (22), a resident of Lytton Road. He said, “I don’t like the manual way of voting.”

On conclusion of the election process, all biometric machines were shifted to the Punjab Election Commission’s office. Talking to The Nation, the ECP spokesperson said, “Overall performance of the BVMs is satisfactory, based on the rating. Almost all voters got biometric verification done at these BVMs after the polling cycle as per approved SOPs.”  The spokesperson also said, “No hindrance occurred throughout the day and voters were exited to get involved in the biometric process.” He said the detailed report about the biometric system would be submitted to the authorities concerned for approval.

In August, the ECP for the first time had received from the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) data of voters registered in the National Assembly constituency of NA-120 (Lahore). Earlier, it had asked Nadra to provide data under Article 220 of the Constitution, saying, “It shall be the duty of all executive authorities in the federation and in the province to assist the commissioner and the election commission in the discharge of his and their functions.”

An ECP official said the data of voters for NA-120 was being analysed. He said that polling station-wise data would be stored in biometric verification machines to authenticate voters before issuance of ballot papers to them.