The Election Commission yesterday exhibited the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in eight districts amid ongoing criticism and protests by opposition parties regarding its use in the upcoming national polls.
In almost all eight districts -- Chattogram, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Faridpur, Mymensingh, Rangpur and Cumilla -- people's participation in the exhibitions was low.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda, in the Khulna exhibition, said the EVM system was being introduced as a permanent solution to casting vote and protecting the voters' interest by maintaining the dignity of votes and transparency of vote management.
There would be no scope for hijacking ballot paper, stuffing ballot boxes at night or casting one's vote by another, he added.
At the exhibitions, the EC showed how EVMs were used and let some people cast a trial vote using the devices. However, people had mixed reactions after using them.
The EC, however, assured free and fair polling in the 11th national general election.
Huda further said an amendment in the Representation of the People Order 1972 was necessary for use of EVMs, adding that they had already made a proposal to the law ministry in this regard.
About demands made by the Jatiya Oikyafront regarding the reconstitution of the EC and no EVMs in the election, Nurul Huda said the EC was not worried about the demand for reconstitution and that oppositions had been opposing EVMs without any knowledge about it.
In Mymensingh's exhibition, held in the city's Town Hall premises, had only a handful of people attending.
Kaiser Ahmed, a voter from the city's Akua area, said the system had no scope of rigging.
While Khodeja Akhter, another voter, said, “The question lies in whether it would be used with sincerity.”
In Rajshahi, the exhibition was held at the EC's regional office in Chandipur area of the city, where Election Commissioner Rafiqul Islam said they were emphasising on EVMs for its environmental value.
“We can't keep destroying trees by using paper. We want to introduce EVMs to save the trees,” said Rafiqul.
In Sylhet, the exhibition, held in the city's Zilla Parishad office, began from 9:00am as several hundred people took part.
Senior Election Officer in Sylhet Khorshed Alam said, “Naturally a machine is designed to cast not more than 500 votes, but these machines were customised for 4,000 for the exhibition.”
However, many raised objections regarding technical glitches.
Madhab Karmakar, a voter in Dariapara area in the city, said, “The machine showed me as a 'fake voter' but I had my NID card with me. Interestingly, my name and number were not on the list.”
In Rangpur, Election Commissioner Begum Kabita Khanam at the EVM exhibition held in the city's Zila Parishad Community Centre, urged people to accept this improved technology.
In Faridpur, the EC organised the EVM exhibition, inaugurated by Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury, at Kabi Jasimuddin Hall in the city.
Meanwhile, BNP leaders in some of the districts, including Mymensingh and Rangpur, held press conferences protesting the exhibitions.