POST TIME: 4 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 4 September, 2018 01:22:42 AM
EVM use to depend on stakeholders’ acceptance: CEC

EVM use to depend on stakeholders’ acceptance: CEC

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda yesterday said that the introduction of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in the parliamentary polls would depend on the law, training and the consensus of all stakeholders.  “The use of EVM in the parliamentary polls is a far cry. It would depend on law amendment, training of the officials, and acceptance by all stakeholders,” the CEC said.

He made the comment while inaugurating a training workshop on EVMs at the Election Training Institute in the capital. A few days earlier, the CEC had said they were preparing a scope for the introduction of EVM in the national elections by amending the Representation of the People Order (RPO) to include some provision for it.

Meanwhile, the EC yesterday sent the proposals for the amendment of RPO to include a provision for the use of EVM to the law ministry for vetting, EC sources said.

In his inaugural speech as the chief guest, Nurul Huda said it was natural for there to be some concern among voters and politicians about EVMs.

“There will be concerns about new initiatives, discoveries or new technology. So, it is also applicable to EVMs. This is because we still have not been able to inform everybody about its uses and benefits. People will come to know about it in phases,” he said.

“We want to treat the concerns positively. It is natural to ask whether the use of EVMs will lead to waste of tax payers’ money. Technology is not now confined to the box. It is now in the hands of people. We can transfer all information through

the mobile,” he explained.

He, however, said the Commission would try to use EVMs on a random basis in some parliamentary constituencies, provided the government formulates the law and the environment was convenient.

“The use of EVM will not depend on our wishes. We will select it randomly out of the 300 seats. If we think we will use EVM in 25 seats, we will not do it by our choice,” he explained.

Regarding the advantages of using EVM, the CEC said, “We need different types of materials including needles, threads and candles during election time as the elections are held manually. During election we are worried about whether ballots will be snatched.”

“If technology is used, it will remove those concerns. It will gradually reduce the election cost. So, EC feels that EVMs will be acceptable. Besides, it is possible to hold a flawless election by using EVMs,” he further said.

About the funds needed for purchasing EVMs, he said, “The money for buying EVMs will not come from the EC. The government and the finance ministry will spend it. We have written to the finance ministry in this regard.”

Attempts were made to use EVMs in elections by the previous two Commissions but the current Commission has used them in some local government polls like city corporation polls, as the EC has the legal sanction to do so in such elections.

But there is no legal framework to use EVMs in general elections. So, the EC recently proposed an amendment to the RPO for the inclusion of provisions to use EVM in national elections.

However, one of the Commissioners at the last EC meeting protested against the introduction of EVM in general election hastily without a consensus among political parties the EC’s main stakeholders.

Most of the political parties, except the ruling Awami League and a few others, said they were against the use of EVMs in general elections. They argue that many countries are now dropping the use of EVMs due to allegations of vote rigging.

Even Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently said EVMs should not be imposed hastily and need to be introduced on a limited scale in the parliamentary polls.

She said, “Many countries use EVM. I was always and am still in favour of it. Yes, it’s right that it shouldn't be imposed hurriedly as it’s a matter of practice. We'll have to examine it.”