The Election Commission will decide on the scale of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) use in the upcoming 11th general election, in a meeting on Saturday. “EVMs will be used experimentally in the 11th general polls,” Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda said at a training session at the Election Commission office at Agargaon in Dhaka, on Friday.
“The decision regarding the scale of EVM use, and the few centres where they will be used, will be taken at a meeting tomorrow [Saturday],” the CEC said. On Thursday, Dr Kamal-led Jatiya Oikya Front threatened to file a case against the government and the Election Commission if they decide to use EVMs without amending the constitution. Alleging that EVMs would be used to “rig” the election, BNP also took a stance against EVM usage. At Friday’s training session, the CEC also ordered an investigation into the death of BNP’s Jessore 6 constituency nomination-aspirant, Jessore BNP Vice-President and Majidpur Union Parishad Chairman Abu Bakkar Abu. Abu’s body was found floating in the South Keraniganj area of the Buriganga River on Wednesday evening.
Jatiya Oikya Front and other left-leaning parties have been opposing the use of EVMs ever since the government and the Election Commission proposed the idea of using the machines in the 11th general polls. BNP demanded that the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec)’s approval of a TK3,25.34 crore project to procure 150,000 EVMs was its scheme to hold another “voter-less” election to “plunder” using public money. However, ruling party Awami League, taking a neutral stance, left the matter of EVM use to the Election Commission.
President Abdul Hamid passed an order for the promulgation of the Representation of the People’s Order (RPO) on October 30—which will allow for the use of EVMs in the upcoming election. The Election Commission deferred the 11th general election from December 23 to December 30, while the deadline for submitting nomination papers has been set for November 28.