WHAT seems to be injudicious for the Election Commission is to make preparation for the use of electronic voting machines when most of the registered political parties are opposed to the use of such machines and the legal reforms to this end has not yet been fully effected. In a situation like this, most of the registered political parties think that the commission is going ahead with the introduction of voting machines to ensure an easy way for the ruling Awami League to manipulate the forthcoming general elections. The Election Commission secretary is reported to have said on Tuesday that the commission had plans to use voting machines in 100 out of the 300 parliamentary constituencies if everything about the legal reforms and positive opinions of political parties went well. Thirty-five out of the 40 registered political parties in the commission’s dialogues on elections with parties that took place in 2017 did not agree to the commission’s proposal for the use of voting machines in the elections. While the remaining five parties that agreed to the use of the machine include the ruling Awami League, the rest 35 parties that opposed the move include the Awami League’s political arch-rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
With most of the political parties remaining still opposed to the use of this technology in elections, the major controversy regarding the electronic voting machines is that there have elsewhere been cases of such machines showing incorrect data, suggesting that there are chances of hack or fiddling with the machines. Besides, electronic voting machines can be made vulnerable to fraud, leaving scopes for election result manipulation. In a country where people at large are not attuned to sophisticated technology, the use of electronic voting machines could cause further problems. The Election Commission has already initiated a move to procure 1,50,000 voting machines at an estimated cost of Tk 38.21 billion and the commission has sent a proposal to the Planning Commission which is pending its executive committee approval. The commission has already been in the thick of it and it has decided to effect the amendment that it needs to do to the Representation of the People Order 1972 to make provisions for the use of voting machines in general elections. This suggests that if the commission has the amendment passed into a law and the commission uses voting machines, this will further complicate the situation. With political parties not agreeing to the use of the machines, such an act of the commission would remain to be a disservice to the development of a sound political system.
With most of the political parties not yet agreed to the use of voting machines and the legal reforms not yet effected to make the use of voting machines legal, it appears extremely unwise for the government to, or trying to, shelve out the money. The Election Commission, in the event of disagreement of the political parties, must stop going ahead with the introduction of electronic voting machines in the next general elections.
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