Even though the deadline for updating the voter list ended on Wednesday, the Election Commission (EC) has failed to completely update the list with first time voters.
EC field workers were supposed to go door-to-door to find eligible voters and carry with them sufficient number of forms to collect their information with. Neither one of those things has been done properly, the Dhaka Tribune has found.
Locals alleged that there were no campaigns in their areas about the voter list updating programme, the field workers did not show up to their home but were working from their offices or setting up stations at local schools with limited number of forms that they ran out of very quickly.
Rokeya Begum who lives in Malibagh said no EC official came to her house during their door-to-door data collection programme. “Three members of my family are now eligible voters but will not be able to vote in the next elections because no EC official came to update their voter list here,” she said.
Some people were completely unaware that this voter list updating programme was going on, Mohsina Karim from Moghbazar said: “We had no idea this programme was going on because there were no campaigns in the area or any officials coming to gather information.”
Reports of inefficient EC workers has also surfaced from Cox’s Bazar, Jessore, Benapole, Rajshahi, Barisal.
Our Cox’s Bazar correspondent Abdul Aziz reports that in Chakaria, Pekua, Ukhia, Teknaf, Ramu, Cox’s Bazar Sadar, Maheshkhali and Kutubdia upazilas the EC officials held day-long programmes at local schools instead of going door-to-door for collecting voter information. Many would be voters were unable to get themselves on the list because the officials ran out of forms.
Abdur Rahman from Ghonapara who is now an eligible voter, said: “I could not get on the voter list because nobody came to our house. I found out that the updating programme was happening at the local school and I went only to be told they ran out of forms.”
Our Jessore correspondent Mohammad Selim Reja, reported similar incidents. A teacher, Md Idris Ali from Benapole also said that the EC officials failed to show up at his house. “The EC employed teachers as data collector and supervisors, they worked from home or their schools and made zero effort in getting the word out. They made grade two, three students tell their parents to come update the voter list. That was the extent of their engagement with the programme,” he said.
A businessman from Jessore, Aminur Rahman, said: “I have a young adult daughter, who is now eligable to vote but she is not on the updated voter list because the EC officials did not come to our house.”
Our Rajshahi District Correspondent Abdullah Al Dulal also reported that there was very little campaigning in the district and very little engagement from the EC officials in regards to the door-to-door programme.
Rajshahi city resident, Shukur Ali said, no EC official came to his home or the area he lives in.
The acting EC secretary, Helal Uddin Ahmed said, actions will be taken against the officials who have failed to meet their duty. “We will take action against anyone who gets a complain against them.”
He, however said the EC has not failed in getting all the information, saying: “We have been 100% successful in collecting the updated voter information.”
Some EC officials told the Dhaka Tribune that a lack of campaigning was to blame for the lacklustre results this year. They said the EC did not have sufficient funds for advertising, miking and local campaigns at mosques.
They said that in comparison to other years, things like landslides, floods and other natural disasters were also partly to blame for not having the entire list completed on time.
An official of EC budget allocation branch said, we allocated more about Tk70cr and spent Tk56cr in 2015. But in 2017, the budget is only Tk41.30cr for the voter list updating programme.
The draft of voter list will be published on January 2, 2018 and the final voter list will be published on January 31.