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EVM fingerprint gaffe hits CEC, Dr Kamal

  • Published at 01:12 pm February 1st, 2020
KM Nurul Huda
CEC KM Nurul Huda having his fingerprints scanned on an EVM at the IES School and College polling centre in Dhaka’s Uttara Sector 5, before voting in the DNCC election, on Saturday, February 1, 2020 Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

Both of them had to manually punch in their NID numbers to cast votes

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda did not see it coming.

The head of the Election Commission faced a debacle himself on Saturday morning, when he went to cast his vote in the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) election and the electronic voting machine (EVM) failed to read his fingerprints.

Afterwards, Huda had to cast his vote by manually punching in his national identity (NID) card’s number around 11am at IES School and College polling centre in Dhaka’s Uttara Sector 5.

Assistant Presiding Officer Siddika Bulbul said fingerprints of the CEC’s both thumbs were scanned in the EVM, but they did not match.

“Then, we used his NID number to verify and complete his vote,” she confirmed Dhaka Tribune.

After voting, CEC Huda told reporters that if anyone’s fingerprints do not match, then there were several other ways for the people to cast their vote.

After he voted, CEC KM Nurul Huda said he was rather crestfallen with the low voter turnout. In response to queries about gunshots, explosions, and other issues, he urged concerned authorities to act without delay.

Siddika also said that if EVMs fail to read fingerprints of a voter, polling officers can use the voter’s NID smartcard, NID number, or the voter slip number to complete the vote.

The voting in the DNCC and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) elections began at 8am and will continue till 4pm, without any break to elect new mayors and councillors.

These elections are being held using EVMs only, instead of traditional ballot papers, for the first time.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, Gono Forum President Dr Kamal Hossain also faced the same difficulty around the same time, when he went to cast his vote at the Viqarunnisa Noon School and College polling centre under the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC).

Dr Kamal Hossain having his fingerprints scanned on an EVM at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College polling centre before voting on February 1, 2020 | Arifur Rahman Rabbi/Dhaka Tribune

The EVM on which he was trying to cast his vote also failed to read his fingerprints and match the data preserved in it.

He, however, managed to cast his vote after 30 minutes, after several attempts, when the centre’s Assistant Presiding Officer Kawsar-E-Jahan intervened and used Kamal’s NID card to help him complete the voting process.

Election officers have been given a scope to override the EVM for only one percent of the voters.

Kawsar said the fingerprints of the eminent jurist, a senior citizen, did not match probably because they have faded over the years.

Kamal, also the Jatiya Oikya Front convener, expressed some frustration over the time it took him to complete his voting process. “EVM is a complicated system. I’m not sure people will come to polling centre to cast their votes since the process is so complex.”

Nonetheless, he urged voters to come to the polling centres and exercise their franchise.

A total of 13 aspirants — six in DNCC and seven in DSCC — are vying for the posts of mayors.

As many as 3,010,273 people under DNCC are eligible to exercise their right of franchise, and 2,453,194 under DSCC.

The last time elections to both city corporations were held together was on April 28, 2015.