It does not make sense to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) in elections as the devices have limitations with poor capabilities, Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (SHUJAN) Secretary Badiul Alam Majumder said on Tuesday.
Using EVMs in the national election will create complications, he said during a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU), presenting data analysis of newly elected Cumilla City Corporation public representatives.
Describing the limitations of EVMs, Badiul said, "Once the vote is cast, we have to accept whatever the Election Commission [EC] says is accurate and true. There are no options to verify the information which is what makes EVMs acceptable."
He said, "Electoral officials have the power to cast votes using fingerprints on EVMs, meaning the results can be changed.
"Electoral officials can rob [votes using EVMs] but I am not calling them robbers."
The SHUJAN secretary continued, "We do not see any point to using such EVMs when it is up to us citizens to decide and we have given [other] proposals. We have clearly said an EVM is a poor machine."
Many questions regarding Cumilla city elections
Speaking about the recent city corporation elections in Cumilla, SHUJAN said there were many unanswered questions that need to be addressed.
"It was said EVMs would deliver immediate results. Then why did the results [during the Cumilla city elections) come four hours later at four centres," Badrul questioned.
He demanded a proper investigation of the delay and called on the EC to set up a commission to this end.
Awami League candidate Arfanul Haque Rifat won the Cumilla City Corporation mayoral election on 15 June with 50, 310 votes. His nearest rival, independent candidate Monirul Haque Sakku got 49,967 votes.
Badiul Majumder also called out the EC on its failure to compell AKM Bahauddin Bahar, the Cumilla-6 constituency lawmaker violating the electoral code of conduct, to leave his area ahead of the election as required.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal on 13 June expressed helplessness concerning the issue, saying the commission can do nothing if a member of the parliament does not respect the EC's directive.
SHUJAN said the EC's failure on the issue has tarnished the constitutional body's status.
"The CEC and other election commissioners have said some inconsistent things, making contradictory statements, thus violating their oath of office," Badiul Majumder said.
He continued, "The big question for me is concerning the capacity of the EC… In the Cumilla City Corporation elections, they did not strictly enforce the code of conduct. They have done many things, including rejecting the candidacy of many small-timers on various grounds, but failed to do the same to the big sharks. Instead, they knelt down and surrendered.
"If the EC surrenders, where will citizens go for fair elections? It is the last place of hope for them."
SHUJAN's Central Coordinator, Dilip Kumar Sarkar, presented a written statement at the press conference.