KATHMANDU, July 23: The Election Commission (EC) on Sunday said that its plan to use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the upcoming elections could be affected if the government and the political parties didn't decide immediately whether to use them in the upcoming elections.
A team of election experts deployed by the election body to study the feasibility of voting machines informed the election commissioners that it would take maximum five months to manufacture machines required for the elections. It is estimated that at least 19,000 control units will be required if the election is to be conducted across the country at one go. At least one control is needed for each polling station while election officials estimate as many as 150,000 ballot units need to be procured for the elections.
"EVM manufacturing companies have sought five months to produce these machines," said EC Spokesperson Surya Prasad Sharma, "All stakeholders such as the government, political parties and other factors should act in time if the machines are to be used in the elections."
After visiting Indian voting machine manufacturing firms - Bharat Electronic Limited, Banglore and Electronic Corporation of India, Hyderabad - the team of election experts briefed the election commissioners that time may affect the use of machines although they are compatible for future elections.
An expert panel of the election body headed by its IT Department Chief Laxmi Prasad Yadav had visited two Indian Election Commission-certified companies last week. EC acting secretary Maheshwar Neupane briefed the commissioners on the panel's report.
Following the briefing, the election commissioners have make up their mind to use the machines in half of the election constituencies even if it not possible to arrange machines for all constituencies due to time constraint.
"We must digitize our elections as this will benefit the nation, not individuals. If it is not possible to use EVMs in all districts, we can use them in half of them," said Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav, adding, "We are not in a position to say anything as the government and the parties are yet to agree on this issue."
The election body has proposed conducting provincial elections in mid-October and central parliamentary elections within November. "Not just the voting machines, other works related to poll preparations are also lagging behind our schedule. So, we are meeting the prime minister soon," said EC chief Yadav.
Given the time left for conducting the upcoming elections, the election body had asked the government to clear the legal hurdles within mid-July and settle constituency delineation issues by July end. The government has just formed the constituency delineation commission while laws related to the provincial and central parliamentary elections are yet to be formulated.
"We don't have much time. The constitution has a provision to conduct all sets of elections within January 21, 2018. We have to act while time remains," said CEC Yadav.