Bangladesh voters lose faith in electoral system

Ahammad Foyez | Published: 00:26, Mar 02,2020 | Updated: 00:40, Mar 02,2020


Large number of voters have lost their faith in the electoral system after facing hurdles to cast their votes in recent elections across the country as the Election Commission celebrates the National Voter’s Day today.

Many voters complained that they have lost their interest in casting votes after failing to vote being thrown out of polling booths by ruling-party activists in recent elections.

At the latest mayoral polls only 25.30 per cent of the voters could cast their votes in Dhaka North City and 29.02 per cent in Dhaka South City on February 1.

They said that they were also forced to cast their votes on the symbols as instructed by ruling Awami League or AL-backed candidates in the recent elections  in Dhaka North and South cities.

A voter form the capital’s Moghbazar area told New Age on Sunday that he was thrown out by ruling AL people from Ispahani Girls’ High School Centre during the Dhaka South City polls on February 1.

Another voter form Kalabagan area said that she was forced to leave the polling booth after she had opened the ballot unit of the Electronic Voting Machine using her finger print at the polling station at Green Road Staff Quarter in Dhaka South City.

A voter of Dhaka north city area said that she was not allowed to cast her vote according to her choice at the Sher-E-Bangla Nagar Government Girls’ High School polling centre by some unauthorized people who had taken  control of the polling booth.

A voter form capital’s Nakhalpara area said that he was harassed by some unknown youths at the polling centre during the 11th parliamentary polls.

He said that they checked his ballot just before he dropped it.

A voter from Rampura area, said that he was asked by some unknown people to cast his vote by showing to them for whom he was voting.  

Another voter form Khulna, said he found his vote had been cast before he reached the polling centre in the last general election held on December 30, 2018.

Election and good governance experts said that that the continued low turnouts in elections, largely caused by the failure to make the political institutions effective and strong, could bring disaster for the country.

They said that the people were staying away from voting and other political activities as the political parties—both ruling and opposition—failed to keep the common people interested in politics.

The i8ndifference regarding the polls mainly stemmed from the one-sided January 5, 2014 general election in which 153 MPs of ruling Awami League were elected unopposed, experts observed.

On January 13, in the by-election to the Chattogram-8  constituency, less than 23 per cent of the voters turned up to cast their votes and more than 80 per cent of the votes were shown in favour of the AL candidate.

Former caretaker government adviser M Hafizuddin Khan told New Age that people saw no reason to exercise their  voting rights as they find no reason to participate in the polls due to the  statements made by the ruling party people that their victory was certain.

Former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder said that anti-people activities on the part of the political parties were responsible for the people losing their interest in voting while the Election Commission on their part also failed to provide safety and security to the voters.

According to available data, the two city corporations in the capital witnessed a sharp decline in voter turnout.

In the last elections in 2015, the turnout in Dhaka North City was 35.87 per cent and in Dhaka South City it was 48.57 per cent.

The turnout in Rangpur city polls was 74.23 per cent, Rajshahi city polls-- 78.86 per cent and Sylhet city polls 62 per cent, held in 2018, while the Cumilla city polls saw a 65.59 per cent turnout in 2017 and the Narayanganj city polls saw 62.33 per cent in 2016.

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