Ruling Awami League (AL) has left it up to the Election Commission (EC) to decide on the use of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) in the next general election, but Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) wants a continuation of the traditional ballot system.
Awami League presidium member Dr Md Abdur Razzak said: “The government wants all political parties to participate in the election. At the same time, it will not create any pressure on the EC over EVM.”
“We want the EC to use the latest technology. EVM will ensure fairness and transparency in voting,” the senior Awami League leader added.
But raising the objection about EVMs, BNP Standing Committee Member Abdul Moyeen Khan said, “People are afraid of EVM as it does not show vote counts to all. So the ballot box is a must to avoid rigging in the elections.”
“Besides, EVM machines are also at risk of hacking. But it is not only a question of hacking, we doubt the integrity and transparency of the people who will be involved in using the EVM machines,” he added.
The BNP leader also claimed it would violate human rights if the technology makes even a 1% mistake.
The two senior politicians made the remarks Saturday during the Debate for Democracy organised at FDC auditorium over the use of EVM in the next election.
Referring to the BNP's demand for formation of a polls-time government, Abdur Razzak said BNP had not placed any outline yet for their proposed government.
“The government wants a participatory election. So all initiatives will be taken to make the next election participative,” Razzak said further.
He also added: “The Constitution of Bangladesh gives the maximum power to EC for taking all steps to hold fair elections. The EC needs to exercise this power.”
Meanwhile, Moeen Khan said, “The EC has not yet released the details to the political parties about the use of EVM. For this reason, nobody knows about the functionality of the machine, as well as its transparency and accountability.”
“Apart from EVM, there are other ways to make the election fair,” he continued. “That should be discussed, and also the effectiveness of other components should be ensured.”
Abdul Moeen further said: “If the franchise of the people is not fully exercised, then no development will be sustainable and as a consequence we will lose our dignity in front of the world.” “So it is necessary to ensure voting rights for the sake of development and democracy.”
Although the two leaders disagreed on different points, they expressed the same opinion about making the next election fair, acceptable and participatory.
The debate was presided over by Hasan Ahmed Chowdhury Kiran, Chairman, Debate for Democracy.
Hasan Ahmed Chowdhury Kiran said, “EVM is a good method for voting if there is no fraudulence.”
“The reason for discussion is whether the EVM machine will affect the results of the election, who will control the machine, what if it is hacked or any special microchips are used with the machine during polls-time.”
“The main two political parties, Awami League and BNP, should reach a consensus from their respective positions for the sake of national interest, so that no other election is held like 5 January in the country” Kiran further said.