As per the current system, if a voter mistakenly presses any other symbol, he has the chance to rectify it. But the opportunity will not be there with the adoption of a one-button system.

The EC officials, however, said voting will be less time-consuming with the adoption of the new system.

Delays in voting were seen in some centres where EVM was used in the previous elections. EC won’t have to do anything complicated for this. They just have to close the function of one button.

There is no logic in using the machine that snatches people's right to vote. The EC has no interest to bring changes like adding VVPAT with EVMs or changes that would solve the problems
Badiul Alam Majumder, SHUJAN secretary

Election commissioner Ahsan Habib Khan told Prothom Alo that they have been thinking of making the voting process more voter-friendly and simpler. But no final decision has been taken as yet, he added.

De facto opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), main opposition party on the Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) Jatiya Party (JaPa) and most of the other 37 parties registered with the EC have been voicing their concerns and doubts about the EVM.

After taking charge, the incumbent EC led by Kazi Habibul Awal, exchanged views with the political parties to dispel the doubts. But, since the meetings in June, most of the parties have taken position against the EVM.

Despite, doubts and suspicions, ruling Awami League wants EVM in voting in all 300 constituencies in the next Jatiya Sangsad elections. The party made this clear during the meeting with the EC in June. AL general secretary, after the meeting, told the newspersons, “We want EVM is all 300 constituencies.”

When the EC took charge in February, it held dialogue with educationists, noted citizens, newspaper editors, journalists and other stake holders. Almost everyone advised the EC not to use EVM if there is no consensus on it. Some people advised to add Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in the EVMs. With this, a printed paper will come out of the EVM where a voter could check the symbol he voted for. The printed paper, however, will be automatically deposited in a box by the EVM. The EC, however, is not thinking about adding VVPAT.

Though there is no specific agenda for the dialogue the EC is going to hold with the political parties from Sunday regarding the 12th parliamentary elections, EVM could turn into a hot topic like the last time.

The election commission exchanged views with 26 election monitoring organisations, who said people do not have much faith on EVM. At the same time, there are ‘djinns’ and ‘dacoits’ at the polling booths these days. These 'djinns' press the EVM buttons for the voters. These 'djinns' have to be removed from the polling booths for the sake of fair elections, the organisations added.

Representatives of the election monitoring organisations also advised the EC to think more before taking the final decision on using EVM in the next parliamentary elections.

Speaking to Prothom Alo about the changes EC is planning to bring in the EVMs, Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (SHUJAN) secretary Badiul Alam Majumder said, “There is no logic in using the machine that snatches people's right to vote. The EC has no interest to bring changes like adding VVPAT with EVMs or changes that would solve the problems.”

* The report, originally published in the print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten by Shameem Reza