Confusion over carrying mobile phones in poll centres
Recently, two contradictory statements came from the two election commissioners - creating confusion on the topic of carrying mobile phones in poll centres. We believe, the EC, on a positive note, should allow the voters to take their mobile phones when they would enter the polling centre for casting their votes, urgently dispelling confusion over the matter among the public. The mobile phone is an important device for tackling urgent situations. However, the option for not using it while voting is another issue.
At a training session held at Munshiganj, Election Commissioner, Kabita Khanam, downright said that the voters would not be allowed to take their mobile phones to the polling centres. But another election commissioner, Brig. Gen. (retd) Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury, did not make such a categorical statement but said that the EC would discourage the voters to take their cell phones with them when they are inside a polling centre.
The two statements from two commissioners have generated confusion over the matter among the public which is not desirable. Restricting use of a cell phone inside the polling centre and discouraging voters to take it is not the same thing.
The points against carrying a mobile handset by a voter as furnished by the election commissioners is that by taking snaps of ballot papers, voters can potentially create irregularities about the poll procedure. Also the apparent risk for spreading rumour and spreading of negative messages via the social media has been mentioned. We don't take these risk factors as matters of fear. The EC is lacking in good faith about the general voters.
The point, however, in modern voting system, election authorities in different countries send the ballot to the voters in advance. So, the picture of a ballot paper coming out of the centre should not be a matter of serious concern.
Carrying a mobile phone has become an integral part of our modern-day life and for urgent communication people need the device ready at hand. Allowing casting votes and carrying mobile phones at the same time - keeping the device in silent mode or switched off condition - is actually a more sensible decision.