After weeks of wrangling, the government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) appear to be pursuing the conciliatory course on the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the next general elections. Sources in the ECP told Daily Times that the top brass of the commission has recently discussed in detail various options regarding the use of EVMs in the elections. They said the commission discussed the possibility of using electronic machines in urban areas in the first place, whilst keeping intact the old system of paper ballot for the rural areas. When asked about the rationale behind this option, the sources said given the high literacy rate in urban areas, the commission considers that the people in the cities can be better educated about the new system than those in the rural areas. Therefore, in the first phase, the ECP wants the use of EVMs confined only to the cities and later to the rural areas. This stance of the ECP is in sharp contrast to its earlier position, wherein it raised as many as 77 objections to the proposed introduction of EVMs, warning that these are tampering-prone and that its software could easily be altered. When this correspondent contacted a federal minister to get his point of view, he was appreciative of the ECP’s flexibility in its stance. He, however, said two separate systems of voting in the general elections will not be a viable and feasible option. The minister was of the view that the people of rural areas are as much tech-savvy as any other area and alluded to the rising number of cellular and internet users there. In addition to that, he said, “Our EVMs are very simple to operate and user friendly for voters as well as the polling staff.” The minister reiterated the government’s stance that the electronic machines will eliminate chances of rigging, and since these are not connected to the internet, hence, they cannot be hacked or bugged. He said the electronic machines would also provide complete data of the polled votes for an audit in case of any election dispute.