Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) has sent back an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) unit, which was sent to them by the Election Commission (EC) after it malfunctioned.
BUET’s Bureau of Research, Testing and Consultation (BRTC) says this was due to a ‘breach of contract’.
The BRTC director sent a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner and the EC Secretariat’s maintenance engineer on Wednesday.
EVMs were introduced in Bangladesh by the EC in 2010, when ATM Shamsul Huda was Chief Election Commissioner (CEC). The machines were then powered by batteries imported from China.
In 2012, the EC led by Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad started to use locally manufactured batteries, against the advice of BUET.
During the 2013 Rajshahi City Corporation polls, the EVMs powered by local batteries had malfunctioned.
In February this year, the EC requested BUET to track down and fix the glitch.
BUET’s reply was that the EC used local batteries for EVMs during the city polls in Rajshahi at its own discretion in total disregard of BUET’s advice.
“This is a clear violation of the contract,” reads the letter signed by BRTC chief of BUET.
It says that it would not be proper for the BUET to comment on the matter of ‘identifying an EVM units malfunction’ used during the polls in Rajshahi.
The letter further says that though the BUET holds the intellectual property rights of the EVM, its advice was ignored on the issue of power supply for the units.
“The EVM control unit sent by you (EC) has been sent back in exactly the same condition it arrived at BUET,” reads the letter.
Meanwhile, the EC says possibilities are slim that EVMs will be used in the upcoming City Corporation polls in Dhaka and Chittagong.
“An EVM unit malfunctioned during Rajshahi city polls. The BUET did not fix it, so possibilities are less that it would be used in Dhaka and Chittagong,” Election Commissioner Mobarak Hossain told bdnews24.com.
He said that officials had to face voters’ anger due to malfunction of EVMs.
“The EVMs cannot be fixed or used due to time constraint,” Hossain said on Thursday.
The same day the CEC told the media that schedules of city polls in the capital and the port city will be announced by March.
BUET says they have several times informed the EC - both verbally and in writing - on specific instructions about batteries to power EVMs.
The machines could experience ‘unpredictable faults’ if locally-made batteries are used without proper testing.
In its letter to the EC, the BUET made it clear that it would not take any blame for EVMs’ malfunctioning.
It further said that they never opposed using local batteries, but they advised using it only after proper testing and satisfactory results.
The EC’s Maintenance Engineer Md Iqbal Javid has forwarded a draft of response to the Chief Election Commissioner, according to EC officials.
During the 2010 Chittagong City Corporation election, EVMs were introduced in Bangladesh. It was then used at a polling centre of a ward as a test case.
The machines were an outcome of a joint venture between the BUET and Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory.