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EC gears up poll preparations

  • Published at 10:34 pm August 28th, 2018
File photo of Bangladesh Election Commission Secretariat Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

40,000 polling stations to be finalized on Sept 6

As the national elections approach, the Election Commission plans to finalize over 40,000 polling stations across the country on September 6.

The EC has asked its field-level officials to send lists of possible polling stations to the EC Secretariat after disposing of complaints by August 30, reports UNB.

There may be more than 40,000 polling stations and 200,000 polling booths in the country’s 300 constituencies serving some 104.14 million voters during the next national elections to be held in December, said an official at the EC Secretariat asking not to be named.

He said election officers working at the district level had already sent a list of some 40,657 possible polling stations to the EC Secretariat.

On August 5, they published a draft list of polling stations, set August 19 as the deadline to receive complaints and disposed of complaints by August 30.

As per the EC's roadmap for the 11th general elections, the list of polling stations will be published in a gazetted notification just 25 days before the polls and the list of polling stations will be sent to registered political parties after the announcement of the election schedule.

During the 10th national elections held in 2014, some 37,707 polling stations served 91.96 million voters. In the 9th national elections held in 2008, there were 35,263 polling stations for 81 million voters.

The Election Commission, on average, fixes one polling station for every 2,500 voters.

Election Commissioner Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury said the process of fixing election centres was underway. "The list of polling stations will be finalised in early September," he told UNB.

Discussing other preparations for the next national elections, he said the EC had already completed the delimitation of constituencies and updated the electoral roll, and the procurement process of election materials was underway. He said the legal process to amend the Representation of the People Order had begun.

The EC needs to reform the RPO to incorporate a provision for the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the national elections as well as prepare a new rule in this regard.

About the use of EVMs during the elections, the commissioner said the EC would arrange fairs about the technology in Dhaka and at the EC's ten regional offices across the country in September or October.

All stakeholders, including political parties, would be invited to attend the EVM displays. There will be a separate session for political parties at the events, he added.

The Election Commission has already sent a project proposal to the Planning Commission to procure some 150,000 EVMs. With this number of EVMs, the EC can conduct electronic voting instead of using ballot papers in one-third of the country’s polling stations.

The Election Commission also issued a public notification inviting new political parties to get registered ahead of the 11th national elections, although the EC did not award registration to 76 recent applicants.

In April, 2018, the EC completed the delimitation of constituencies, redrawing 25 parliamentary constituencies.

The 25 constituencies are Nilphamari-3 and 4, Rangpur-1 and 3, Kurigram-3 and 4, Sirajganj-1 and 2, Khulna-3 and 4, Jamalpur-4 and 5, Narayanganj-4 and 5, Sylhet-2 and 3, Moulvibazar-2 and 4, Brahmanbaria-5 and 6, Comilla-6, 9 and 10, and Noakhali-4 and 5.

This year, the EC will not conduct a voter list updating exercise ahead of the national elections.