The concept of electronic voting was initially and officially addressed in Pakistan around the year 2009; following a report issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan on the use of Electronic Voting Machines. This included a critical evaluation of the present system of paper-ballot and further dwelled into its comparison with the proposed new method of e-voting. At the outset, it is an undisputed fact that we are a proud democratic nation. We boast of not just two but at least three prominent political parties. Yet, there remains an eternal tussle over the efficiency and legitimacy of the paper-ballot voting procedure. Every general election is carried out almost like clockwork. At times, even before the result, a contestant or his benefactors start crying wolf at the credibility of the outcome. On some occasions, this may even lead to recount in certain constituencies. It would, therefore, be safe for many, including myself, to suggest that the above presents a golden opportunity for the PTI government to cash in on, which, being the subject of this piece, comes in the form of introducing Electronic Voting Machines. But is it wise? I ask this question as I receive a notification for a news article titled “Neglect caused FBR cyber-attack,” which discusses at great length, the outdated software and obsolete IT equipment at our esteemed federal law enforcement agency. These not-so-comforting proclamations bring me to the crucial first point of my three-phase argument regarding the need for E-voting: why not E-governance first? An electronic government utilises Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and applies these to its functions and processes to maximise efficiency and transparency; ensuring easy access for all citizens. A relatable example would be the e-services portal of the Government of Pakistan; providing a complete online experience for the renewal of passports. Other e-services provided by e-governments world over include payment of income tax, issuance of birth/marriage certificates, car registrations and health-related services. A move towards this approach depends largely on the governments’ readiness to adopt it; overcoming the barriers to its implementation and subsequent advancement. Lastly, this depends on the willingness of citizens to welcome the change. Their reaction may be based on how user-friendly it may be. We are a country perpetually at risk of cyber-hacking from neighbouring as well as internal forces. A government such as Pakistan may face another element: do these services even work? Lest we forget, we are a country perpetually at risk of cyber-hacking from neighbouring as well as internal forces. In any case, for any state, community or persons, privacy remains one of the biggest challenges of the new electronic age. For e-voting, any Electronic Voting Machine will have installed firmware that is unavoidably at risk of deployment of a Self Destructive Routine (SDR) by hackers that may permanently erase all data stored on the machine. After all, there is a reason why the Electronic Government Directorate was established in Pakistan in 2002 but has only picked up the pace of late. The Covid-19 era has compelled a greater reliance on technology and internet usage. In addition to being a security risk, there exists today a huge digital divide amongst our nationals, which stems from a lack of awareness. Hence, appreciation of the scope and services of e-governance, coupled with economic poverty and even the multiplicity of languages spoken in Pakistan, creates a barrier to a better understanding of computer systems. To eventually create a seamless system of e-governance and might I add, e-voting in the forthcoming years will require intense monitoring and renewal; rendering the facility not only ‘e’ for electronic but in addition thereto, efficient, efficacious and effective. My following deliberation is regarding the legality of e-voting in a volatile jurisdiction such as ours. We would all agree it is imperative that such a system be mindful of achieving a common constitutional goal furthering the ideals of an egalitarian state. What some legal minds may speculate poses as a slippery slope is section 103 of the Election Act, 2017, which empowers only and solely the Election Commission of Pakistan to conduct pilot projects for the utilisation of electronic voting machines. These pilot projects, as initiated by the ECP, are to test the technical efficacy, security and financial feasibility amongst other things. In no statute and under no authority has the government or any other administration been permitted to replace in entirety the present paper-ballot system with electronic voting. It is, therefore, no surprise that President Arif Alvi promulgated the Elections (Second Amendment) Ordinance 2021 under Article 89 of the Constitution by way of which no less than 49 amendments were proposed to be made to the Election Act to facilitate a smooth transition to e-voting. All this under the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan. All this to bring about an improvement to the election laws of Pakistan. But if you ask around, some would say it’s a decision made in haste. Initially, a strategy whereby the ECP was approached to enable overseas Pakistanis to partake in the election process soon became an all-inclusive electoral revolution. My third point: it may be inclusive, but is it all-encompassing? Restating a shared position, speculators of an e-voting regime are neither doubting the PTI governments’ commitment towards their cause nor are they shying away from technology. Yet one can’t help but wonder, can we afford it? For a national election consisting of around 85,000 polling stations, the government will require voter identification units, control units, ballot units, printers and RTS modules, estimated to cost approximately PKR 55 billion. Although this cost is one-off, there is going to be the inevitable recurring expense that comes with the maintenance of the machines, the cost of training personnel to use the systems, technical support which is bound to have a hefty price tag in its own right. We should bear in mind the fact that these machines will be stored away for five years. Will they be in working condition come next election? Is this the reason many sophisticated, forward-thinking nations have abandoned the idea of automating their voting structure, citing security, reliability and maintenance and annual spending as deciding factors? Countries such as the Netherlands, Finland, Ireland and even Kazakhstan have scrapped the idea after first use; stating the risks outweighed its benefits. That being said, e-voting is very common for large organisations, bar associations and unions, making it convenient to outsource this to third party management. After much thought and fair consideration, it is fair to conclude that we welcome all or any efforts of the PTI government to implement e-governance services for its citizens. However, Pakistan had come out with its first EVM model in the 2010s only to abandon it soon after. For the idea to be restored years later by the current leadership, one can only keep our fingers crossed that the people of Pakistan are not made guinea pigs to a specimen of insecure technology in the upcoming 2023 elections. The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.