Election Commission is moving to procure 1.5 lakh electronic voting machines spending about Tk 3,821 crore although using electronic voting machine in the next parliamentary polls is still a matter to be settled.
The commission in the past week submitted a project proposal to Planning Commission seeking its approval for the five-year project to ensure ‘more transparency in the electoral processes’, EC officials told New Age.
The project evaluation committee is likely to sit on Sunday at Planning Commission to look into pros and cons of the proposal, acting member of the Socio Economic Infrastructure Division of the Planning Commission Mohammad Delwar Bakht, who led the committee, told New Age on Thursday.
Officials say that national identity wing of EC has prepared the proposal arguing that EVM will help EC collect and publish polls results faster.
The purchase of each EVM will cost nearly Tk 2 lakh and the EC may buy those from Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory Ltd.
Recently the EC purchased 190 EVMs from BMTF at a cost of about Tk 3.66 crore, according to EC officials.
Under the fresh move, they say, a five-year project with 13 employees has been placed for approval from this fiscal year.
On the project, election commissioner M Rafiqul Islam said that the commission would make a decision over using EVM in next poll following the preparation of the EC secretariat.
He said that EC was planning to increase use of EVM in all types of elections including local government polls as EC till now used electronic voting partially in local government polls.
He said that 1.5 lakh machines were not enough for the parliamentary polls as at least three lakh machines were needed to conduct the polls using EVM.
At a recent press conference, EC secretary Helaluddin Ahmed said that the commission was planning to arrange fairs across the country to make EVMs popular among the voters.
He said that the EC would hold the fairs at 10 places across the country before the 11th parliamentary elections to popularise EVM system.
In his recent statement, chief election commissioner KM Nurul Huda said that the EC was planning to use EVMs in the next general election.
In May 2017, he had, however, said that EVMs would be used in the next parliamentary polls if all political parties agreed.
In November 2017, he said that EVM would not be used in the next general elections as the commission was not prepared for it.
In the EC-hosted electoral dialogue with the political parties held last year, 35 of 40 registered parties including Bangladesh Nationalist Party asked EC not to use EVMs in the next general poll.
The rest five parties are — ruling Awami League and its alliance partner Workers Party of Bangladesh, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal and Bangladesher Samyabadi Dal (M-L) and Zaker Party.
On May 22, 2017, a BNP delegation, led by its secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, submitted a letter to EC speaking in favour of not using electronic voting machine in the next general election.
In the 2010 Chittagong mayoral election, the EC used EVMs at one ward for the first time in the country.
BNP and a host of other parties opposed the use of EVMs in national polls out of fear that the Awami League-led government would digitally manipulate election results in that case.
After technical errors cropped up due to selective use of EVMs in local elections in 2013, the EC put off the use of EVMs in elections.
EC’s interest in using EVMs resurfaced in 2017 after prime minister Sheikh Hasina requested president Abdul Hamid to give a directive to the EC to use EVMs in the 11th general election.
The EC is planning to hold the next general election by December this year.
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