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Participatory polls more important than EVM: CEC

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 5 October, 2022 12:00 AM
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Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal said on Tuesday that participatory elections are more important than use of ballot papers or electronic voting machine (EVM) in the next parliamentary elections.

“Use of ballot papers and EVM are not the main issue. The bottom line is that everyone should strive for a fair and participatory election. It’s not a big deal whether EVM remained in that election or ballot papers,” he said.

The CEC made the remarks while talking to journalists after a view-exchange meeting with the Election Monitoring Forum (EMF) in the capital on Tuesday.

“If elections are not participatory and not effectively contested, there is no guarantee of how EVM or ballots will behave. There is no guarantee that EVM or ballots will be needed at all,” he said.

Despite informing about the decision to use EVM in 150 seats earlier, the CEC said there is no assurance in this matter yet.

“We’ve decided to conduct voting on EVM in maximum 150 seats. But till now there is no guarantee about this. It will depend on the government's approval,” the CEC mentioned.

“If a financial involvement in this project does not seem appropriate in the view of the government, such projects may not be allowed.”

Earlier, a five-member EMF delegation, led by its Chairman Prof Mohammad Abed Ali, participated in the meeting.

About the meeting with EMF members, the CEC said, they asked for clarification on the perception of EVM.

“We didn’t support EVM soon after taking charge of the commission. We’ve analysed and trialled EVM to understand it in different ways for a long time. There have been a lot of discussions and a lot of participation. No one has been able to show that any kind of manipulation is possible through EVM. Now everyone is saying openly that hacking EVM is not possible. It is a standalone machine,” the CEC said in reply to the EMF.

Awal also said, “We have told the members of the EMF, you should do your work. We cannot participate in any of your work. It is not possible. They also told us that you are not conducting campaign on EVMs. We said we would see the matter.”

“They also said many foreign diplomats come here whether diplomats influence us or not? I said they are diplomats, highly trained. They never said anything to influence the election.”

The CEC further said foreign diplomats often give us assurance of cooperation and want to know if any assistance is needed. But, we have not yet made any such offer to them.

Abed Ali told reporters that the EMF has recently been registered with the EC.

They will visit the divisional cities to highlight the positive aspects of EVM and discuss these issues with the Election Commission, he said.

“The EC said EVM will be used in voting for 150 seats in the next parliamentary elections. Holding elections through EVM will only be possible if the government gives allocations,” said Abed Ali.