In an Expression of Interest (EOI) document released on 12th November, the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) has called for applications offering “consultancy for the analysis, design and implementation of internet voting for overseas Pakistanis.”
The document lists the purpose of internet voting as “maximiz(ing) user/voter participation, by allowing them to vote from anywhere and allowing access from different computer systems and from any device that has an internet connection.”
According to the EOI, the MoITT intends to select well-established, experienced, and innovative consultants for the task. The EOI is prepared based on available information and the recommendations of the Internet Voting Task Force, as well as other publicly available documents on the subject.
“The sole objective of this document (the Expression of Interest) is to solicit response from interested consultants for taking part in the future electoral process for overseas Pakistanis,” states the EOI.
As per the EOI, the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication is “evaluating I-Voting mechanisms and solutions to digitalize the electoral process of Pakistan.” For this purpose, it is soliciting offers for consultancy by experts in the relevant field.
Consultants having “technical and financial strength” have been invited to offer their services to the Ministry in this project, with the Ministry responsible for facilitation and sponsorship of the venture in terms of machinery, equipment, development, installation, functioning, operations etc.
The EOI expects that “only consultants having proven experience in development/design, build, analysis, operation and maintenance of Internet Voting and must have executed I-Voting projects will respond to this Expression of Interest notice.”
The selection process of consultants would be rigorous and based on competitive bidding, with only applicants meeting prequalification criteria allowed to participate in the subsequent RFP. The prequalification criteria include: A) financial capability, B) general work experience, C) specific work experience, and D) human resources capability. All applicants will be marked on these criteria from a total of 100 marks.
The scope of work to be conducted through the project is defined by the Ministry as analysing prevalent I-voting solutions and technologies alongside the existing I-voting system developed by NADRA. Additionally, consultants are also expected to propose Internet voting solutions and recommendations to maximise voting by overseas Pakistanis.
The specific questions to be addressed are detailed in a 13-point list of requirements drafted within the EOI document. These include performing a technical benchmarking exercise of countries with similar voting processes/procedures and the technology deployed; proposing the solutions/mechanism to maintain audit trails without compromising anonymity of users; and analysing various Blockchain internet voting solutions and proposing a solution that is best suited to Pakistan.
The last date for submission of responses to the EOI is 23rd December.
Pakistan first introduced online voting for overseas Pakistanis in 2018. Originally intended for full-scale deployment in the General Elections 2018, the system failed a third-party audit and was deferred due to multiple vulnerabilities and security concerns. It was then applied on a trial-basis in the bye-elections of October and December 2018. A total of 7538 electronic votes were counted and incorporated within the election results.
The Expression of Interest by the MoITT suggests that a full-scale deployment of I-voting for overseas Pakistanis is expected in the upcoming General Elections of 2023.