No EVM for 2014 polls, says CEC

Dhaka, Aug 5 (bdnews24.com)

Electronic voting machines (EVM) will not be employed in the next parliamentary elections, the Chief Election Commissioner said on Sunday.

The decision not to entrust Bangladeshi democracy to computers was because ‘the Election Commission is not ready to use the EVMs at the national level’, Kazi Rakib Uddin Ahmed told reporters.

“The law will have to be changed for this. But we have already done some test-runs in several local government elections,” he said after a meeting at the Election Commission.

No EVM in next polls: CEC

সংসদ নির্বাচন ইভিএমে হচ্ছে না: সিইসি

His remarks came after six months of speculations over the use of the EVMs in the general elections. He, however, said that EVMs would be used experimentally in the Rangpur City Corporation polls.

According to the CEC, the voter list for 200 Upazilas was updated and the commission was currently examining double voters. A total of 3 million news voters were registered this year.

He mentioned that 1,96,000 people became voters twice in 2008-09.

“Some of them lost their identity cards or some others changed address. But, anyone who had a new identity card out of any ill-motive would be punished,” Rakib added.

As for Dhaka City Corporation polls, he said updating the voter list will begin in October while the High Court order postponing the polls will be challenged.

He declined comment when asked whether they would disclose the expenditure and income of political parties.

The last EC, led by A T M Shamsul Huda, had successfully used voting machines in one ward during Chittagong polls and in one-third of polling centres in Narayanganj elections, and turned Comilla city polls and Narsinghdi municipal by-polls into completely computer-based elections.

Main opposition BNP has been opposing the use of EVM in all elections since the EC began trialling them.

Uncertainty had loomed over their use in the elections after Kazi Rakib took over the EC in February though the government and the immediate-past EC had been firm on its use in the national elections.

The Institute of Information and Communication Technology (IICT) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) has been providing technical assistance to the EC in manufacturing and using the EVMs.

IICT Director Prof Lutful Kabir in March had told bdnews24.com that the new Election Commission was not paying ‘proper attention’ to the issue.

Other Election Commissioners had earlier hinted the Commission’s confusion over the issue, but CEC Rakib on Sunday confirmed for the first time that the EC was not ready to use the EVMs in the parliamentary elections.

After taking oath as the CEC on Feb 15, Rakib on Feb 28 had said that the newly-formed Election Commission would again take the initiatives to hold dialogue with political parties to make the use of EVMs in the national polls acceptable to everyone.

But no initiatives have been taken since then.

The EVM are susceptible to fraud as its control unit cannot be fully secured from tampering, experts say, even though the government pumped huge money into the new technology to help voters cast their ballots electronically.

When the machines break down, voters can use provisional paper ballots, but there is scepticism over whether they will be counted.