The Election Commission (EC) has started bringing back all 1,100 electronic voting machines (EVMs) from its field offices across Bangladesh, to destroy ones which are flawed.
A technical committee has been formed, with experts from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), to examine how many EVMs are out of order.
Following the committee report, the Election Commission will destroy all defective EVMs. The EVMs were jointly made by Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory and Buet in 2009 and 2011.
The EC recently took the decision after considering that most of the six-year-old machines no longer worked properly and would not be viable to repair.
Besides, it will be difficult to fix any technical errors if they appear during the use of defective EVMs in the upcoming elections.
"Most of the EVMs have gone out of order. So, we've formed a technical team with our Buet experts to examine how many EVMs are not working," EC acting secretary Helaluddin Ahmed said on Saturday.
"Now all the EVMs are being recalled from different field-level election offices, to examine the condition of these machines. The Commission will destroy any faulty EVMs," he told UNB.
The EC's initiative will make uncertain the use of EVMs in the upcoming Rangpur City Corporation election, though it has a plan to use the machines on a small scale in the next national polls, likely to be held next December.
However, the EC acting secretary said the Commission still plans to use the EVMs in a ward of the Rangpur City Corporation during its election.
Only flawless EVMs will be used in the city election, Helaluddin added.
The ATM Shamsul Huda-led EC first used EVMs on a pilot basis at a few polling stations in the Chittagong City Corporation polls held in 2010.
Later, the EVMs were used partially in different local elections. In January, 2011, the Comilla City Corporation election was held with EVMs in its entirety.
Technical errors occurred in a few EVMs during the Comilla city election, Narsingdi municipality by-polls in 2012 and the Rajshahi city election in 2013. However, the EC faced no major difficulty in declaring election results due to large margins of difference in each of these elections.
In 2012, the Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad-led Commission decided not to use EVMs in the 10th national election due to the chance for technical errors and strong opposition from political parties, foremost among them being BNP.
Assuming office in February 2017, the incumbent commission said it has a plan to use electronic voting machines or digital voting machines in the next national election, but this depends on political consensus.
Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda has repeatedly said they will use the EVMs if political parties reach a consensus on it.
But the possibility of a political consensus on the issue is very thin, as BNP formally wrote to the CEC a few months ago declaring opposition to any move to introduce the EVMs in the national election.
EC officials said the Commission will require some 300,000 EVMs to arrange the next national election entirely based on the machines instead of ballot boxes.
They added that there is not enough time to produce and test such a large number of machines before the election.