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ECP extends deadline for overseas Pakistanis’ registration for October by-polls

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday extended the registration deadline for overseas Pakistanis wishing to participate in the i-voting process for the upcoming by-elections.

Overseas Pakistanis can now register till September 17. The previous deadline was Sep 15.

The ECP will be holding by-elections in 37 constituencies for both national and provincial assembly seats on Oct 14. The Overseas Voting System (www.overseasvoting.gov.pk) has listed the constituencies for voting on the website’s homepage.

Only expats who hold a National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (Nicop) or Machine Readable Passport (MRP) can register to vote.

After the ECP laun­ched its website for overseas voters on August 31, election observers had voiced concerns about the system’s “credibility and transparency”.

Ahmed Bilal Mehboob of the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Trans­parency (Pildat), an NGO working for the promotion of democracy in the country, had said one of the concerns was that the i-voting system can “easily be subjected to cyber attacks or manipulation”.

He had also expressed concerns about the requirements for registration for i-voting.

“Firstly, a large number of Pakistanis — especially in the Middle East — would be excluded from the voting process as they will not have an email address,” he had said.

“Secondly, there is nothing that can ensure that the person is freely using his right to vote online and not being coerced by someone.”

Political parties have also expressed concerns about the i-voting process. PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the i-voting system launched by the ECP was “technologically faulty”.

On Tuesday, the ECP had held a joint press conference with National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) officials to debunk complaints about the software that will be used to enable overseas Pakistanis to vote.

The ECP said that the purpose of the extension of the registration deadline was to get as many Pakistani expats to register to vote as possible.

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