The Election Commission is scheduled for today to hold a meeting to prepare its proposal seeking amendment to the Representation of the People Order to make provisions for the use of Electronic Voting Machines in the next general elections.
The latest move came after the commission recently initiated a move to procure 1.5 lakh Electronic Voting Machines at an estimated cost of Tk 3,821 crore, commission officials said.
The commission is holding the meeting just about a month before declaring the schedule for the next general elections scheduled for January 28, 2019, at the latest.
On August 20, the last working day before the Eid-ul-Azha holidays, a senior assistant secretary of the commission issued an office order asking the members of the law reform committee of the commission to join the meeting, expected to be presided over by chief election commissioner KM Nurul Huda.
Commission secretary Helaluddin Ahmed told New Age on Saturday that media would be briefed about the development after the meeting.
He, however, declined to share details about the move.
Election commissioner Kabita Khanam, also the chief of the commission’s law reform committee, told reporters on August 19 that the commission would try to get the amendment to the electoral law passed in the next parliamentary session, to begin on September 9.
Commission officials said that the commission was considering making provisions for the use of EVMs as the ruling Awami League wanted to introduce the electronic voting system in the next general elections.
They said that the commission initiated the process for the procurement of 1.5 lakh EVMs, although the use
of EVMs in general elections was still a matter to be settled and the provisions for which were yet to be made.
In the commission’s electoral dialogue with the political parties in 2017, 35 of the 40 registered parties, including the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, asked commission not to use EVMs.
The rest five parties – the ruling Awami League, its allies Workers Party of Bangladesh, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal faction led by Hasanul Haq Inu and Bangladesher Samyabadi Dal (M-L) and Zaker Party – supported the use of EVMs.
BNP has been opposing the commission’s move for the amendment to the Representation of the People Order 1972 suspecting that the amendment would be designed to keep away BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and acting chairman Tarique Rahman from the party’s leadership and make them disqualified from elections.
The party also opposes the use of EVMs alleging that it might ease election engineering by the government.
The commission, however, said it had asked BNP to check the EVMs by their technology experts.
In April, the draft of the proposed amendment was sent back to the law reform committee by a commission meeting and later in July the commission secretary told media that the commission had no plan to go for any amendment to the 1972 order.
AL organising secretary Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said that as a registered political party his party would welcome each move of the commission for holding an acceptable election.
He claimed that BNP smelt a rat everywhere as the party had no strength to face anything politically.
BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain declined to comment on the issue.
Communist Party of Bangladesh president Mujahidul Islam Selim said that the commission’s decision to introduce EVMs would be a wrong as most parties opposed it.
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