The Election Commission is apparently creating confusion over the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the 11th parliamentary elections – likely to be held at the end of this year.
The commission recently said it is going ahead with plans to use EVMs in the national polls, despite opposition from a number of political parties, and has started training its officials on EVM operation.
On Sunday, the commission’s Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed said there would be no amendment in the Representation of the People Order (RPO) before the said elections.
However, Helaluddin on Monday also told reporters that they were thinking about using the machines in all the local government polls, the run-up to the general elections.
“If we get effective results, we will use EVMs in some polling centres during the national polls. But the commission is yet to make a final decision on this matter.”
Also Read- RPO not to be amended before next election
“After making a preliminary decision, we will sit with the political parties. There is also the matter of RPO amendment among other issues,” he said, which apparently created the confusion.
If the RPO is not amended before the national polls, then it is still unclear how the commission will implement its plan to use the EVMs in the election.
Helaluddin said: “The Election Commission will take all the factors into consideration before making the final decision.”
He said the local government laws emphasized use of modern technology, and “to organize a transparent and successful election we are going to use this technology.”
According to the commission, since December last year, EVMs performed very well in the elections to the Khulna, Rangpur and Gazipur city corporations, several by-polls and local government polls.
Also Read- EC plans to use EVM in next general election
The secretary said EVMs would also be used in 11 voting centres in Barisal city, and two each in Rajshahi and Sylhet. The elections to these city corporations are slated for July 30.
He said the machines would be used in Cox’s Bazar Municipality polls too. “We also hope to use EVMs in the upazila elections next February.”
Helaluddin said the commission would organize fairs in 10 regions of the country to introduce the EVMs to the rural people. “A fair in Barisal has already been held. Another fair will also be organized in Dhaka either in July or October.”
During the dialogue with the commission, a number of parties, including BNP, had opposed using the EVMs in the polls, but ruling Awami League supported the idea.
The schedule for the next parliamentary election will be declared in the last week of October. The commission has time till then to figure out a way and decide whether EVMs would be used in the national polls.