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EC goes heavy on EVMs in proposed amendment

  • Published at 01:35 am May 29th, 2018
  • Last updated at 01:36 am May 29th, 2018
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File photo of the Election Commission office in Dhaka Dhaka Tribune

Ruling party Awami League had told the Election Commission that EVMs would have to be used in the upcoming election, during the commission’s meeting with political parties

The Election Commission (EC) is making amendments to the Representation of the People Order (RPO) with provisions for Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in the 11th National Election. 

Amendments are being made to a total 19 sections of the RPO. 

In accordance with the proposal of the EC committee for law reform, a provision for the use of EVMs alongside traditional paper ballots was added. The proposal stated that it is important to clearly define EVMs in the law. The machines will not be used only for casting votes. They will verify fingerprints and National ID card numbers. If the voter cannot be verified by the system, they will not be able to vote. Many sections of the RPO have been amended to include provisions for EVMs.

The committee has also proposed raising the deposit for candidates. Polling agents assigned to voting centres will receive EC IDs.

Ruling party Awami League had told the Election Commission that EVMs would have to be used in the upcoming election, during the commission’s meeting with political parties.

When Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) met with the EC, their demand was to not employ EVMs or Digital Voting Machines (DVM) under any circumstances in the election. This demand was backed by the majority of political parties.

However, the EC appears to be going ahead with making amendments to the RPO in order to use EVMs for the election.

A source at the EC said the reform committee submitted a proposal to bring changes to 19 sections of the RPO. 

Overall, the sections of the 1972 RPO that have been proposed changes to are 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, and 44. 

An EC source said there is no mention of EVMs in the road map of the 11th National Election. Moreover, there are conflicts of interest among the parties in the use of EVMs. 

The passing of these changes will eventually depend on the parliament. EC officials have said a legal consultant will be employed to analyze the amendments after the commission takes a decision that falls in line with their policy. A draft bill will be sent to the Law Ministry following the final decision of the EC, where a meeting will be held with the prime minister presiding to verify and approve the amendments. After analysis by a parliamentary standing committee, the bill will be passed and the RPO amendments will be finalized.

Meanwhile, the EC has already begun purchasing new EVMs, with a total of 2,535 already having been bought for the city corporation elections and the purchase of another 1,500 under way. 

EC officials said they plan to purchase over 10,000 EVMs before the election, with each EVM costing upward of Tk2 lakh. 

The EVMs are being purchased from Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory.