The project proposal to buy Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) is likely to be finalised next week. A meeting on Tuesday failed to reach any decision. The committee formed to evaluate the market prices of EVM could not complete its work as of now.

It can be mentioned that most of the political parties in their dialogue with the election commission (EC) spoke against EVM. Only four parties including ruling Awami League opted for the EVM.

The EC, however, decided to hold election using EVM machines in a total of 150 constituencies, which draw flak from different quarters. A joint statement of 39 eminent citizens urged the commission to back away from the decision.

Decision of using EVMs in the election is a political one and also technically questionable. Only a handful of  seats saw election using EVMs in the last election as political consensus could not be reached over the issue. During ATM Shamsul Huda-led commission, EVMs were used in Cumilla City Corporation and some other local government polls.

The EVMs at that time did not have the facility of biometric identification. And the EVMs now in use do not have Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in the device. This is one of the main reasons of the objection of opposition parties.

The past election commission bought EVMs, flouting public opinion, at a cost 11 times higher than India. The government had spent Tk 234,000 for each EVM while the machine India uses costs Tk 21,250. They even did not wholly comply with the suggestions given by an advisory committee led by Jamilur Reza Choudhury.

Questions are now being raised about the rationale behind the EC’s decision to buy 200,000 EVMs. It can be asked if the purpose of using EVM is holding a fair election or it is just the question of buying the machine? What is the logic of spending huge amount of money buying EVM machine while the country’s economy is under pressure?

As the EC decided to hold election in traditional ballot papers in 150 seats, it can hold the full election in ballot to avoid controversy as well as save public money. The result of imposing the decision to hold election using EVMs without consensus of political parties cannot bear good results. We hope the EC would not put the cart before the horse.

If the political parties do not reach consensus on EVMs, they should skip the luxury project of buying EVM.