Election Observers: Voter turnout very poor

Polling agents forced out of Residential School Center, Dhaka. Source:Naya diganta

Election observer groups yesterday said voter turnout in the city corporation elections was very low and voting was frustrating.

The Election Working Group (EWG) said violence, anomalies and vote rigging marked the polls in Dhaka North City Corporation, Dhaka South City Corporation and Chittagong City Corporation.

“There has been violence during voting, and there were almost no polling agents at polling stations. Our observers said ballot stuffing had prevailed, and voter turnout was markedly low. Around midday, only 20-25% voters turned up, while mayoral and councillor candidates were almost absent at the polling stations,” EWG Director Md Abdul Alim told the Dhaka Tribune.

Some 650 EWG observers visited polling stations in both Dhaka and Chittagong cities.

Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah, chairman of Janipop (Jatiya Nirbachan Parjabekkhan Parishad), said such a picture of the election was not expected, especially after the lively campaigns conducted by the candidates.

“We did not really want to see that things would turn out this way but it happened. It is frustrating. Typically, we see a mad rush in the last hour of voting but that was not something we saw this time as the BNP boycotted the elections. Also, the turnout of female voters was poor,” he said.

Fair Election Monitoring Alliance (FEMA) also made the same observation, saying that the absence of agents of opposition mayoral and councillor candidates at polling stations was very noticeable.

The election observer group said in a press release that voter turnout was very poor in the morning and increased as time passed, but the overall turnout till midday was far below the expected level. It said supporters of certain mayoral and councillor candidates were quite active outside most of the polling centres.

The FEMA observed that the Election Commission’s arrangements involved some shortcomings in terms of logistics and infrastructure but law enforcement agencies carried out their duties satisfactorily. It also said agents of certain mayoral candidates were present in high numbers outside polling stations.

Source: Dhaka Tribune