It took the decision at a meeting on Thursday after Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukdar walked out in protest against the planned use of the machines in national elections.
The other three commissioners and chief KM Nurul Huda were present.
It was a majority decision on amendment to the electoral rules after Mahbub’s note of dissent, CEC Huda said after the meeting.
The commissioner sent a note to the meeting expressing his opinion after the walkout.
Huda was asked if they will be able to get the rules amended and EVMs necessary for parliamentary polls with the next one only a few months away.
“We are yet to decide whether to use the EVMs in the 11th parliamentary elections,” he said.
The EC will be ready to use the EVMs in the next general election scheduled to be held by the end of this year if the atmosphere remains favourable, he added.
The EC started using EVMs in local government elections in 2010, but the machines have not been used in parliamentary polls yet.The election law – the Representation of the People Order or RPO – needs to be changed to use the EVMs in parliamentary polls.
The ruling Awami League favours EVMs, saying these will make the balloting more transparent.
But the BNP has been vocal against the idea of using the machines from the beginning. It suspects the latest EC move is a ploy to rig votes.
The CEC had been saying that they would not use EVMs in general election without the consent of all the political parties, but recently the EC moved to amend the RPO to allow EVMs in parliamentary elections.
Talukdar came out of the meeting half an hour after it started at 11am questioning the move to introduce the machines in parliamentary elections without consent of all the parties.
CEC Huda, flanked by commissioners Md Rafiqul Islam, Kabita Khanam and Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury, briefed the media after the meeting ended at 5pm.
“We have decided to amend the RPO by including provisions on using EVMs. A note on the decision will be forwarded to the ministry shortly. The proposal will be presented in parliament once the ministry clears it,” Huda said.
Although many proposals were made to amend the RPO, the EVM was the key issue, he said.
Backing the commission’s decision, the CEC said, “We have been successful in using EVMs in the local government elections. Now the ground for using EVMs in parliamentary elections will be created once the legal reforms are done.”
“We will be able to prepare (for EVMs in general elections) if the EC decides,” he added.
The BNP has condemned the EC decision to amend the RPO to allow EVMs in parliamentary polls despite Talukdar’s note of dissent.
“No-one but the Awami League wants EVMs to control and rig voting. (The decision) goes to show how the Election Commission has bowed to pressure by the government,” senior BNP leader Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said.
The Awami League welcomed the EC’s decision. Quader said the BNP opposed the decision because it did not want technological advancement in Bangladesh.
Senior Awami League leader Tofail Ahmed also criticised the BNP, saying it ‘always opposes good things’.
He also pointed the finger at Talukdar as he was a BNP choice for the EC.
Former election commission Muhammed Sohul Hussain is considering the EC’s decision to introduce large-scale use of EVMs as a positive move.
He advised the commission to clear its position quickly on allowing the machines in the next polls.
Fair Election Monitoring Alliance President Munira Khan also suggested making EC’s stance clear and detailing its plan to gain trust.