Decision to use markers to tick ballots scrapped

Election Commission (EC) has backed away from a decision to use markers for voting in ballot papers.

The proposal to use the pens instead of seals in local and municipal elections had been scrapped, EC Secretariat Deputy-Secretary Abdul Wadud told bdnews24.com.

“The decision was taken a year ago at the 47th meet headed by CEC Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed to experimentally use pens or markers instead of marking seals in these elections,” he said.

The regulation was meant to be amended to allow pens to ‘tick or cross’ ballots instead of ink seals which sometimes causes votes to go to waste when the ink does not dry but smears when ballots are folded.

CEC Ahmed also told reporters of their plan to replace seals with pens.

The commission would have had to import indelible, non-smear ink markers if the decision was kept.

The matter, however, was brought up at a recent meeting but senior Election Commissioner Abdul Mobarak objected saying: “We have to keep the earlier system in the local elections instead of pens or markers,” the meeting’s working paper states.

But officials fear that introducing pens or markers may help ballot-stuffing techniques as it may tempt unscrupulous agents to use their own pens to tick ballots for their candidates especially when there is a narrow margin.

Besides that, a great number of Bangladeshis are illiterate and may have difficulty in using pens to tick ballots.

The EC saw these as veritable reasons before backing away from the plan, said Wadud, who believed the use of machines may clear these issues.

Electoral laws provide for electronic voting in municipality polls and measures were underway to amend current rules and for the first time use machines during union council polls, he said.

“We will present working papers for this in the commission’s meeting soon. EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) can be used in union council election, by-polls and general elections once it gets approved.”

Some parties were opposed to EVM and the matter was not inserted in the law for the parliamentary election, said Wadud.

“There are doubts that it will ever be used in parliament polls without concensus among political parties.”

The commission’s budget in the national budget for fiscal 2014-15, however, has allotted a sum for buying EVMs.

Source: Bd news24

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