POST TIME: 4 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 4 September, 2018 01:20:55 AM
EVM use in nat’l polls
Proposal for RPO amendment sent to law minist

Proposal for RPO 
amendment sent to law minist

The Election Commission (EC) has sent its proposal for the amendment of the Representation of the People Order (RPO) to the law ministry for vetting so that it can use electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the national elections. Md Shelim Miah, the EC’s joint secretary (law), took the amendment proposal to the law ministry and gave it to the ministry officials concerned.

After working on it, the law ministry will give its opinions on whether there will be any legal problems under the existing laws and whether the EVMs would be used during the national elections after bringing an amendment to the RPO, sources in the law ministry said.

After vetting and other formalities by the ministry are completed, the amendment proposal of the RPO will go to Parliament. If Parliament passes it, then EVMs can be deployed in the general elections, an official of the law ministry said, requesting anonymity.

According to sources in the EC, the RPO was amended to

incorporate the use of EVMs in the national elections, scheduled to be held in December. The EC had started the use of EVMs during the local government elections in the country from 2010. Now, the EC plans to use the EVMs in the general elections amidst criticism by various political parties.

On August 30, the EC had finalised a proposal for an amendment to the relevant law to pave the way for use of EVMs in the national elections, likely to be held in December.

However, election commissioner Mahbub Talukdar gave a note of dissent against the EC’s move to use EVMs in the next parliamentary elections.

The sudden move to use EVMs in the national elections, less than two months before the announcement of the election schedule in October, has been questioned by the political parties.

The Opposition parties have expressed their apprehensions whether the 150,000 EVMs that would be procured would be just to serve certain vested quarters, especially when the EC does not have the capacity to make the best use of them, as they said. Some of the election commissioners also pointed out that this was not the right time to plan the use of EVMs in the national elections. This would create controversy, they added.

On Thursday, the BNP termed the EC’s plans to use EVMs in the next general elections as a collaborative scheme with the ruling Awami League (AL) to rig polls.

The EC has already started a five-year Tk. 38-billion project towards the procurement of 150,000 EVMs, with the Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory (BMTF) being tasked to supply the machines. The EC was scheduled to hold a meeting of the project evaluation committee on 19 August. The EC finally gave its approval on August 30.