The Election Commission plans to use a limited number of newly introduced electronic voting machines or EVMs in the upazila election to be held in February.
The plan for the use of EVMs in the election to about 500 upazilas came after a successful test run in city corporation polls.
“This is a continuation of the process,” said EC Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed.
The last upazila election was held in February and March 2014 in five phases when a number of people were killed in violence.
The new EVM by the EC was first used in Rangpur City Corporation polls in December last year. Later, it was used in a limited fashion in Khulna and Gazipur city polls.
“We will use EVMs in 10 centres in Barishal, two centres in Rajshahi and two centres in Sylhet in the upcoming city corporation election on July 30. Also, it will be used in three centres during Cox’s Bazar Municipal Corporation polls,” Ahmed said.
Each EVM costs Tk 200,000 to Tk 250,000, he said adding it will be cost-effective if EVMs are used in all future local elections.
However, the commission has spent more than Tk 350,000 on average for each voting centre which is six times more than the amount spent in those centres using ballot papers.
New technology costs more initially, but it will bring long-term benefits if EVMs are used in the entire election system.
The present EVM introduced by the EC is ‘much stronger than any past machine,’ said Prof Md Haider Ali, a member of the commission’s technical committee.
“This machine leaves no scope for rigging. The ballot will be issued only after automatic verification ensuring the identity of the voter,” said Ali, also a teacher of computer science and engineering at Dhaka University.
“The voter can vote only after identification through fingerprints or NID.”
The EC will organise a fair in 10 areas in the country to introduce EVMs to voters, said Ahmed.
One fair has already been held in Barishal and received wide responses from visitors. The EC plans to hold one central fair in Dhaka and also to send two EVMs to every district for mock voting and campaign, reports bdnews24.
However, the commission is yet to decide on the use of EVMs in national elections.
The RPO or the Representation of People Order needs to be amended for that. “The commission will consider every aspect before taking any decision. However, there’s no plan to amend the RPO before the 11th national election,” he said.
The EC debuted the EVM during elections to a ward in the Chattogram City Corporation in 2010. Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and Machine Tools Factory initiated the technology.