12:00 AM, December 22, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 08:05 AM, December 22, 2018

From campaign trail: Khulna, Satkhira

Voters skeptic about EVM use

Confusion remains among many over casting votes using electronic voting machines in Satkhira-2 and Khulna-2 as they have no practical knowledge of the machines.

Besides, rumours have been  swirling around in the two constituencies that there would be irregularities in the use of EVMs on the  polling day.

Moksed Ali, a rickshaw puller from Satkhira's Bhomra, said, “Many people have been saying that the EVM will help officials identify who cast his vote for which electoral symbol.”

Mentioning that they were still in the dark about the EVM, voters said the Election Commission didn't conduct enough publicity campaigns to make them aware about the machine's use.

They expressed concern that unschooled voters might face difficulties in casting votes.

According to Election Commission documents, EVM displays have so far been held in eight out of total 22 wards in Khulna-2. Such programmes will be organised in five more wards tomorrow.

Doly Khatun, a worker at a fish processing firm, lives in Khulna city's WAPDA slum -- home to     over 8,000 low income people in ward-22.

Talking to this newspaper last week, she said, “EVMs should be used in polling centres of some specific areas inhabited by educated people as we are not well aware of their use.”

Like Doly, some other slum dwellers, mostly females, expressed worries about using voting machines.

“I am worried about casting my vote using an EVM because I know nothing about it. I will be ashamed if I cannot operate the machine properly. In that case, I will leave the polling centre without casting my vote,” said Roksana.

At least 10 other women voters echoed the worries of Roksana.

For the first time in the country's history, the Election Commission is going to use EVMs in the coming parliamentary election. For this, the EC has selected six constituencies by a lottery.

EVMs will also be used in Dhaka-6 and 13, Chattogram-9 and Rangpur-3 during the voting on December 30.

In Satkhira-2 (Sadar), 698 polling booths will be set up in 137 voting centres while Khulna-2 (Sadar and Sonadanga) will have 720 booths in 157 centres.

Talking to The Daily Star a few days ago, Satkhira Returning Officer SM Mostafa Kamal, also the district deputy commissioner, said people generally get worried whenever a new system is introduced. “We will conduct publicity campaigns to make people interested in EVMs.”

M Majharul Islam, senior district election officer in Khulna, said the EC would try to hold EVM display and mock voting in all the polling centres in Khulna-2.

Mir Mostak Ahmed Robi, ruling Awami League candidate in Satkhira-2, said votes could be cast promptly and maintaining transparency by using EVMs.

BNP nominee Nazrul Islam Monju said Khulna-2 is one of the risky constituencies in the Khulna division.

The AL men were accused of stamping ballots and rigging polls results during the last city corporation polls, he added.

Azizur Rahman, publicity secretary of Satkhira Jamaat-e-Islami, alleged that the government was going to use EVMs “to rig the polls results digitally”.

Khulna Mayor Talukder Abdul Khaleque, also the city AL president, said his party wants that the election should be held in a transparent and acceptable manner so that no one can raise any question about it.

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