Amid protest of election commissioner Mahbub Talukder, the Election Commission on Thursday finalized the draft of amending the Representation of the People Order 1972 to introduce electronic voting system in general election.
The EC meeting took the decision to introducing electronic voting in general elections.
But no decision was taken whether electronic voting would be introduced in the coming general election set for December.
In electronic voting, electronic voting machines, in short EVMs, are provided to the electorate to cast their votes,
At a news conference called after the meeting, chief election commissioner KM Nurul Huda said EVMs would be used in the next general election if the environment was found to be ‘fvourable’.
He said that Parliament would have to pass the proposal to amend the RPO.
He said that the EC had taken ‘enough preparations for using EVMS in the coming general election.’
At a separate news conference, election commissioner Mahabub Talukder said he gave a note of dissent to the move to amend the RPO before leaving the EC meeting.
He said that he gave his note of dissent as the EC disregarded most of the registered parties views opposing introduction of EVMS by amending the RPO.
He said that he walked out of the meeting after recording his note of dissent.
The CEC said that the commission will send the draft seeking amendment to the RPO to the law ministry for vetting.
He said that the EC would hold demonstrate to the stakeholders on using the EVMs.
He said that positive feedback from the field level on the use of EVMs in local government elections prompted the EC to create the legal ground for using EVM in general elections.
About the note of dissent of the commissioner Mahabub Talukder the CEC said that the decision according to the majority members’ views.
Replying to a separate question, he said that the EC had sent its proposal of procuring 1.5 lakh EVMs worth Tk 3,821 crore to the Planning Commission.
The CEC said that the proposal had been approved by all the five election commissioners.
But election commissioner Mahbubub Talukder said that the proposal for buying the EVMs was never discussed at ant EC meeting.
Replying to another question, the CEC said that the EC conducted no study on using EVMs in polls.
Election commissioner Mahabub Talukder said that no proposal for procuring EVMs was ever discussed at any EC meeting.
He said that he was against using EVMs in next general election as he considers that the polling officers were not given the training needed to use the EVMs in general elections.
He said that he found out during local government polls, ‘our voters are not used to casting votes using EVMs.’
He said that it could take up to 10 years for the EC to develop the capability to use EVMs.
In 2017, during dialogue called by the EC, 35 out of 40 registered parties, including the main opposition BNP opposed the use of EVMs in the next general election.
On five registered parties, ruling Awami League, its coalition partners, Workers Party, JSD faction led by Hasanul Haq Inu and BSD (M-L) and Zaker Party was in favour of using EVMs.
In May 2017, the CEC had said that EVMs would be used in the next parliamentary polls only 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 2010 Chittagong mayoral election, the EC used EVMs in 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 fears that the Awami League-led government would digitally rig the polls.
After technical errors cropped up due to selective use of EVMs in local elections in 2013, the EC put off it plans to 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 set for December.
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