The EC also said that they will take a final decision on the matter after reviewing and discussing with all political parties, eminent citizens, and stakeholders.
Opposition parties like BNP and Jatiya Party have expressed their opinion already. BNP’s demand is an election-time interim government instead of the ruling party and ballot paper instead of EVM machines. Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, the secretary general of BNP cleared their stance that they will not participate in the next election if that demand is not fulfilled. They think EVM is another tactic of election rigging. After boycotting the 2014 parliamentary polls, the BNP contested the last general election. But the party recently boycotted local government polls saying that fair elections are not possible under the AL government. GM Quader, the JaPa chairman echoed Fakhrul's voice, saying the EVM system is faulty and there is a huge scope of vote-rigging.
We want to set aside these political remarks and like to explain it from our commoners' angle. A portion of our older voters is not accustomed to EVMs, the new voting technology. So slow vote rate and mismatch of the fingerprint is a very common scenario where EVM has been used.
A worse situation may await Bangladesh if we do not take proper steps, as the Russia-Ukraine war continues. We should refrain from all unnecessary expenditures. And, here, we have a humble question, for whom does this eight thousand crore taka project aim to please?
Our eminent citizens suggest that the EC should refrain from using EVM in polls unless there is consensus regarding the use of the technology. They also urged the EC to take steps to restore people's trust in EVM.
Some experts suggest EC can introduce a Variable Paper Audit Trail System (VVPAT) at EVM to tackle rigging and mistrust. In the VVPAT system, a printed slip comes out after voting and voters leave the booth with this slip. It is also helpful if needed for recount. Our neighbouring country India introduced this system where EVM is used widely. But as far as we know, our Election Commission has not said anything on the VVPAT issue.
A special report published in Prothom Alo informs us that EC needs to collect three lac more EVMs if they are to hold votes in 300 constituencies. The price per EVM machine is two lac thirty-five thousand taka. So EC needs an additional eight thousand crore taka for the new three lac EVMs. At this moment, our economic condition is not in a healthy shape. The price of essentials is soaring. A worse situation may await Bangladesh if we do not take proper steps, as the Russia-Ukraine war continues. We should refrain from all unnecessary expenditures. And, here, we have a humble question, for whom does this eight thousand crore taka project aim to please?
As a state institution, EC should not so obedient to the party government. The ultimate duty of the EC is to hold a fair, credible, and acceptable election. So EVM should not be the issue. Hopefully, CEC Kazi Habibul Awal will make the right decision for the sake of the democracy and the people.
* Kazi Alim-uz-zaman is Deputy News Editor, Prothom Alo. He can be reached via [email protected]