The Election Commission (EC) has decided to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) in maximum 150 constituencies in the 12th parliamentary elections despite a strong opposition to the device by the majority of political parties.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the commission held at the Nirbachan Bhaban in the capital with Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal in the chair.
Replying to a query whether the EC has the capacity to arrange polls with EVMs in 150 seats, he said the commission has 1.5 lakh EVMs at present. “Voting in 70-75 constituencies can be conducted with those. The number of EVMs depends on the number of voters. If a constituency has fewer voters, a less number of EVMs will be needed there. More EVMs will be needed if the number of voters is higher.”
Ashok said they will need to procure more EVMs for holding votes in 150 seats with those. “If the commission decides to purchase more EVMs, the secretariat will take that step. We’ll go for the procurement,” he said.
The EC additional secretary declined to disclose in which seats EVMs will be used, saying it can be said after the election schedule is announced.
During the recent dialogue with the EC, the majority of political parties opposed the use of EVMs in the election, expressing their concerns over the authenticity of the device.
Some 22 parties, out of total 28 that took part in the talks, raised the issue during their meetings with the EC.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which boycotted the talks, has long been alleging that the device will be a tool to rig votes. Even, the CEC himself said many parties do not believe in the device.
However, the EC has now taken the decision to use EVMs in half of the total constituencies ignoring the observations and suggestions of the political parties.
The EC used EVMs in six constituencies in the last general election.
Earlier, the commission finalised a set of proposals following the talks with 28 political parties over the next parliamentary elections.
About the proposal on EVMs, the EC said on Monday that political parties came up with mixed opinions over the matter. Some bat for the EVMs while some oppose the use of the device.
The EC held dialogues with 28 of the 39 registered political parties in July last. Nine political parties boycotted the dialogue. The EC will hold dialogues with the rest two parties in September.