Election Commission embarrassed over Electronic Voting Machines

Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) introduced to modernise the polling process have become a source of embarrassment for the Election Commission.

Moinul Hoque Chowdhurybdnews24.com
Published : 14 May 2015, 09:32 AM
Updated : 14 May 2015, 11:03 AM

The much-hyped machines have remained out of order for nearly two years after the commission stopped using them after detecting  errors in three units during city polls between 2011-13.

The EC negotiated with the manufacturers, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), for a way out.

However, the last BUET letter raised allegations of contract violation against the commission, adding to the embarrassment .

But the EC claims it has not violated the contract.

After the malfunction of the EVMs in 2013, the election commission sent them back to the manufacturer with a request to trace the errors last year.

But BUET returned the machines in March of this year, saying that local batteries were used in the devices, which, it said, was a violation of the contract.

In an accompanying letter, BUET  explained why the use of local batteries was a ‘clear violation’ of the bilateral agreement.

As a result, BUET maintained they were ‘no longer bound’ to identify the errors and were sending back the units.

On May 7, the EC’s maintenance engineer, Md Iqbal Javid, again wrote to BUET asking for a ‘full report’ on an emergency basis after testing the errors of the EVM.

He also asked for an explanation on the university’s claim of ‘contract violation’.

The letter said the commission was embarrassed when the EVMs were returned and denied use of local batteries in the control unit during Rajshahi polls. “We cannot understand how the contract was violated in this case.”

The letter said that the EC faced problems during Narayanganj and Narsinghdi polls even when using foreign batteries under the watch of BUET professor SM Lutful Kabir and they could not use them for the polls.

Kabir was one of the driving force behind the  introduction of EVM in 2010.

The commission claimed that although BUET has reservations against local batteries, their use did not lead to technical faults.

The commission also added that no faults were found when local batteries were used during Rangpur City Corporation polls in 2012.

“It has also been proved that the error in the EVM used during Rajshahi polls was not because of the batteries.”

On Wednesday, the EC Secretariat’s ICT system manager, Rafiqul Haque, told bdnews24.com, “We have asked BUET to give a full report clarifying their stance. Hopefully, we will get a satisfactory reply this time.”

CEC Rakib Uddin Ahmad highlighted the EVM problems while announcing the schedule for the Apr 28 Dhaka and Chittagong city corporations polls. He also assured they would not be using the machines until the errors are resolved.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher