‘EVMs mandatory for LG polls’ | The Express Tribune


The Punjab government has decided to make electronic voting machines (EVMs) mandatory for the upcoming local government elections across the province.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar approved amendments to the Local Bodies Act to make the EVMs compulsory for voting in the local bodies polls. As per the new ordinance, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is bound to include EVMs in the elections.

Buzdar said the parliament had passed a law regarding the EVMs and now the Punjab government will ensure voting through the machines as well.

After the new amendments by the Punjab government, sources speculate there could be a delay in the local government elections as it wouldn’t be possible for the ECP to conduct elections in March next year.

Read EVMs, e-voting, data centre to cost Rs59b

On Saturday, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar approved the Punjab Local Government Act 2021, paving way for local government elections on a party basis.

The local bodies were restored by the Punjab government on the orders of the Supreme Court after a 25-month long suspension.

The top court had declared Section 3 of the Local Government Act unconstitutional and annulled the Punjab government move to dissolve the local bodies prematurely.

Further details of the Local Government Ordinance have come to light. Under the new system, community councils and panchayat councils will be formed in Punjab.

Two women must be represented in community councils and panchayat councils. According to the ordinance, local body elections will be held by secret ballot. There will be a joint panel of mayors, deputy mayors and councilors. Candidates will win election by a simple majority.

Political parties or independents will be able to contest elections only in the form of a panel. Non-panel candidates for all categories will not be eligible to contest elections. According to the ordinance, community councils and panchayat councils will be formed in Punjab.

Village councils and neighborhood councils will be required to form community councils and panchayat councils within three months of their establishment. No elected person from the local bodies will be a member of these councils. The members will be nominated for two years. Council members will monitor the rate of inflation and sale of goods at fixed prices.

The council members will protect the interests of the people of the area and will also be able to send a report against child labour to the relevant departments. In addition, the council members will report incidents of violence against women and children and will monitor the crime situation.

They will also file complaints against those who damage government property and will report any epidemic or fire incidents to the agencies concerned. The council members will contribute to educational activities for deserving people and marriage expenses of deserving daughters and will also play a role in repairing playgrounds, rehabilitating street lights, cleaning canals and other measures.

They will play their part in the tree planting campaigns. The council members will also be required to report absentee officers at government offices in their areas and will also set up a watch and ward system.

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