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POST TIME: 20 June, 2018 00:00 00 AM
EC plans to expand use of EVMs in local govt polls
HARUN UR RASHID

EC plans to expand use of EVMs in local govt polls

The practice of using electronic voting machines (EVM), instead of the traditional way of stamping ballot papers, to cast votes is expanding gradually in local government polls. Election Commission (EC) sources say the use of EVMs in local government elections have gained popularity among voters and field-level election officers on duty. The commission wants to expand EVM use as it is cheaper and less time-consuming than the traditional way of casting votes, the sources add.

Most importantly, EVMs function only by the fingerprints of individual voters—no one can cast any other person's vote because the voter's fingerprints voter must match, NID Wing director general Brig. Gen. Mohammad Sidul Islam told The Independent recently. “The machine is effective as it secures the voter's right to cast his/her vote,” he said.

“We have planned to expand the use of EVMs in local government polls. There are proposals to use EVMs in six centres for the Gazipur City Corporation (GCC) polls. We have received great feedback from the voters on EVMs,” he added.

The six centres where EVMs will be used are: the Chapulia Model Govt Primary School centre (2,480 voters), the Mofizuddin Khan High School centre (2,552 voters), the Mariali Govt Primary School Centre-1 (2,562 voters), Mariali Govt Primary School Centre-2 (2,827 voters), Rani Bilasmoni Boys High School Centre-1 (1,927 voters) and Bilasmoni Boys’ High School Centre-2 (2,077 voters).

On June 18, the EC issued a circular for the use of EVMs in the six centres for the GCC polls to be held on June 26.

EC officials will hold mock voting from June 19–24 to familiarise voters with the use EVMs for casting votes. “Before casting votes, all voters are identified by their smart NID cards and  fingerprints. When they match, the voters are allowed to cast votes,” said Sidul Islam.

“Before using the machine, presiding officers and polling agents can test the machine. The machine will show ‘zero’ if no vote is cast,” he explained.

 “If any problem arises within the machine, there will be a back up to replace the faulty machine immediately. The new machine will receive votes from where it had ended (with the previous machine),” he added.

 He also said a single EVM can function for 10 to 15 years, thus reducing election cost. “The machine can't be hacked as it's run by the EC's internal network, which is  called a virtual protocol network (VPN). Polling agents can check the machine,” he added.

 Right now, the EC possesses 380 EVMs to be used in different civic polls. The machines are manufactured in the Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory. There is a strong technical team of 19 members, headed by Prof. Reza Choudhury, as the advisor.

 Sources said that voters expressed their liking for EVMs in local government elections like Rangpur and Khulna civic polls.

Besides, the EC has given a demon stration of EVMs for the Barisal City Corporation elections slated to be held on July 30.

“We've to adopt EVMs gradually. Once voters and candidates are ware of the use and benefit of the machine, they will be used in all civic polls,” said Sidul Islam.

Though the EC is using EVMs at only a few voting centres, it has a plan to use them in all centres in one of the municipality polls in Chattagram, EC sources said.