Five years after the last use of old EVM in the maiden polls to Rangpur City Corporation in 2012, the Election Commission is now going to use newly-designed EVM on trial basis in the upcoming election to the same city corporation.
The new EVM (Electronic Voting Machine), produced by Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory, will be used in a polling station (Begum Rokeya College Centre of Ward No 25) of the city corporation election slated for December 21 next.
Unlike the old EVM, the new machine has a number of fresh features, including voter verification process, display of names of symbols of all the candidates, printed vote-casting confirmation slip and installation of data of the particular polling station.
Generation of Quick Response (QR) code against each voter and confirmation option for the voter before casting ballot are among other features of the machine which can only be operated by the presiding officer of the polling station concerned or any other authorised persons.
The new machine was designed following the assessment made by the Prof Jamilur Reza Choudhury-led 18-member technical expert team formed by the Election Commission.
To cast vote through the new machine, a voter first needs to go through a verification process by fingerprint or smart national identity card number or voter number.
When the voter will be found genuine in the verification process, the projector will show the portrait of the voter concerned, and a QR code will be generated and printed against the voter, and then the ballot unit will be activated allowing the voter to go the secret place to cast the ballot pressing the button of the machine.
Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury said though the Commission will use the new EVM in a polling station of Rangpur City election on trial basis, the manual balloting system will be kept ready to face any possible failure of the machine.
The voter will be able to see the names and symbols of all the candidates. After pressing the button of the machine, the voter will have a confirmation option to confirm vote in favour of the particular candidate. The voter finally will get a vote-casting confirmation slip after the verification of the ballot.
"The vote-casting through the new EVM is just another version of the entire exiting balloting system," he said.
About the security of the new EVM, he said, "It's not online. So, no one can hack it. Besides, outsiders can't cast votes through the machine as there'll be voters' date of the polling station concerned."
The Commissioner said only the Presiding Officer concerned or authorised persons can operate the machine. Once the machine is closed after the voting, it cannot be used to receive votes. No voter can exercise voting rights twice using the machine, Shahadat Hossain added.
He said if the Commission gets success in the use of the new EVM in the local body election, it will go for large-scale production of the machine.
Mentioning that there will be mock-voting with the new EVM use in Rangpur, Shahadat said the voters will not face any trouble with the machine on the polling day.
But the EC is most unlikely to use the new machine in the next parliamentary elections expected to be held in December 2018 as some political parties oppose its use, said EC officials.
Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda in November last told reporters the Commission is not ready to use EVM in the 11th national elections. But the machine will be used in various local government elections on an experimental basis, he added.
Two months ago, the EC decided to destroy the flawed machines among the 1,100 old EVMs.
The ATM Shamsul Huda-led EC first used EVM on a pilot basis at a few polling stations in the Chittagong City Corporation polls held in 2010.
Later, the EVM was used partially in different local elections. In January, 2011, the Comilla City Corporation election was held with EVM 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.
In 2012, the Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad-led Commission decided not to use EVM in the 10th national election due to the possibility of chance for technical errors and strong opposition from some political parties.