Election Commission on Saturday, amidst protests from most stakeholders, said it would use electronic voting machines in six constituencies of next general election rescheduled for December 30.
Addressing a press conference at EC’s media centre, its secretary Helaluddin Ahmed told reporters that the commission decided to select the six constituencies through a random selection in presence of journalists on November 28.
He said that the constituencies would be selected from city corporations and urban areas.
He said that the EVM would be used at all polling centres of the six constituencies as each constituency would have around 150 polling centres.
He said that EC officials and army personnel would operate the EVMs while members of army signal core would be trained by the commission from today so that they could provide all-out technical services.
He said that the commission unanimously reached the decision taking into consideration objections raised by different political parties against the use of the EVMs.
He said that assistant presiding officials would be allowed to use their fingerprints at 25 per cent of total votes of a centre to assist the voters if the thumbs of any voters did not match.
According to the EC officials, the commission so far trained about 600 people to operate EVMs.
They said that around 6,500 EVMs would be required for 900 polling centres while about 1,000 EVMs were available till Friday and the import of the machines was under process.
EC also held a series of EVM demonstrations in different parts of the country including in the capital to popularise the system.
After the commission announced election schedule on November 8, delegations of opposition Jatiya Oikya Front, a combine of four registered parties, Jatiya Party-led Sammilita Jatiya Jote, a combine of three registered parties, and Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh-led Jukta Front, a combine of four registered parties, urged the commission not to use EVMs in this general election.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance also stands with Jatiya Oikya Front in its opposition to EVM use.
Three other registered parties — Communist Party of Bangladesh, Socialist Party of Bangladesh and Revolutionary Workers Party of Bangladesh — from Left Democratic Alliance also continued opposing the use of EVMs.
At a seminar on EVM on Thursday, Dr Kamal Hossain-led Jatiya Oikya Front warned that it would go to court against the government and the commission if they tried to use EVMs in this general election without amending the constitution.
The alliance alleged that the use of EVM in polls was a violation of constitution.
On August 29, amidst protests from election commissioner Mahbub Talukder, the commission finalised the draft of the amendment to the Representation of the People Order 1972 to introduce electronic voting system in general election.
In commission-hosted dialogues in 2017, 35 of the 40 registered parties, including the main opposition BNP, opposed the use of EVM in the next general election.
Ruling Awami League, its allies Workers Party of Bangladesh, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal faction led by Hasanul Haq Inu and Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal (M-L) and Zaker Party were in favour of using EVMs.
BNP and a host of other parties opposed the use of EVM in national polls fearing that the Awami League-led government would digitally rig the polls.
On September 18, 2018, the executive committee of National Economic Council approved a project for the purchase of 1.5 lakh EVMs in three phases.
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