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President promulgates ordinance paving way for EVM use in national polls

  • Published at 09:38 pm October 31st, 2018
2018 General election graphic

The Cabinet on Monday had approved the amendments to the existing RPO

Electronic voting machines (EVMs) can be used in the upcoming 11th general election after an order was passed by President Md Abdul Hamid on Wednesday. 

The promulgation of the Representation of the People Order (RPO) by the president follows the approval by the Cabinet on Monday of three proposed amendments to the ordinance which would make EVM use possible, reports UNB.

Briefing reporters at the secretariat after Monday’s meeting, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said that a new provision was incorporated in the law to use EVMs approved by the Election Commission in the polls instead of traditional ballot papers.

The law will give the commission authority to introduce the EVM system, approve the EVM format and EVM software, and take safety measures for EVMs.

The new law proposes a number of safety measures for the EVMs to allay people's fear over their security features.

About the safety measures, the Cabinet secretary had said an EVM cannot be altered, tempered and hacked. 

"The machine will not have any network, internet connection, computer control and remote frequency and it will also be protected from any tempering and manipulation," he said.

A provision was kept in the new law to introduce the online system for submission of nomination papers alongside the manual one.

Also under the proposed law, a loan defaulter would be allowed to pay his loan even a day before submission of his nomination paper to contest in the polls.

Also Read- Cabinet clears way for EVMs in general election

Currently, loan defaulters are required to pay back the loans seven days before submitting the nomination papers to run in the electoral race in line with the existing RPO.

The Election Commission is planning to use EVMs at the polling centres in one-third of the country’s 300 constituencies during the vote, which it wants to organize in the last week of December.

On August 30, the commission decided to propose the amendments to the RPO, incorporating a provision to use EVMs in the parliamentary polls after piloting them in the recent local government elections.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on September 18 also cleared a Tk3,825.34-crore project to procure 150,000 EVMs.

Since their introduction in 2010, EVMs have thus far been used in different local government elections only.

The ruling Awami League has always been in favour of using the machines for the national polls, by amending the RPO.

However, BNP and left-leaning political parties, apart from independent election observers, have always opposed the idea, expressing concern that the machines could be used to rig the election.