Voting began at 8am Thursday morning
The polling centres in the Dhaka north and south city corporations are experiencing low voter turnout in part due to adverse weather conditions.
Voting began at 8am Thursday morning.
However, election officials are hopeful that voter turnout will increase as the day progresses and the weather improves.
Different law enforcement agencies including the Rapid Action Battalion, Border Guards Bangladesh, and police are patrolling the streets and providing strict security for the polling centres.
The Dhaka Tribune, till now, has visited 13 polling centres at five different schools.
Commenting on the proceedings, Md Faisal Mia, presiding officer at the Mohammadpur Girls High School voting centre, polling centre number 942, said around 8:25am: “Only two ballots have been cast so far. Maybe the rain is responsible for such low numbers."
Meanwhile, Swapan Kumar Mistri, presiding officer at the Begum Nurjahan Memorial Girls' High School voting centre, polling centre number 935, said around 8:50am: "No one has cast their vote at this polling station till now. Weather can be a very big reason for this.
"Also, campaigning by the candidates was not that intense and widespread. Maybe the fact that this is a by-election is responsible for the low voter turnout."
"However, we are hoping that more people will come to vote as the day progresses and the weather improves," he added.
Dhaka Tribune reporters have visited four centres at Manarat Dhaka International Scool and College, in Gulshan 2.
Two of the centres are for male voters and two are for female voters.
Though voting began at 8am, the first male cast a vote there at 9:05am; while no female voter has appeared till 9am.
Voting is underway at 26 centres in Gulshan.
After visiting 12 to 13 polling centres in Gabtoli, Dhaka Tribune found that polling agents and election officials outnumber voters at the centres.
Around 2000 voters are eligible to cast their ballots throughout the day.
However, up until 11am, most centres had no more than 15 to 20 voters, with an exception of one or two.
When asked about the low voter turnout, presiding officers at the centres said a couple of reasons are behind the absence of voters.
They said low voter turnout is not that unusual in by-polls as very few councillors are vying in the polls. Also a lack of electioneering and torrential rain played a vital role in discouraging voters from appearing at centres.
Polling agents and members of law enforcement, performing their duties at the centres, have echoed these explanations for the low voter turnout.
Ehsanul Huq, presiding officer of a centre in Bagbari government primary school, said: “Voter turnout did not increase after lunch as expected.”
While visiting voting centres in Mirpur 1, the Dhaka Tribune found that nearly 300 voters have, thus far, cast their ballots at a centre there; this is more than 12% of the centre’s total eligible voters.
Mostafizur Rahman, presiding officer of the voting centre (No 284) at Hazrat Shah Ali Mohila Degree College, said: “Significant numbers of voters have cast their ballots till now”
Ambia Sultana, executive magistrate in charge of Mirpur's ward 8, said: “Voting is peacefully underway and no irregularities have been witnessed at any centres so far.”
When asked about the low voter turnout, she said: “Rain barred voters from appearing at polling centres in the morning. However, more voters will hopefully turn up by noon as the rain has stopped.”
Arifur Rahman, presiding officer of a female-only centre in Monipur High School in Mirpur, said: “The presence of female voters has increased since 12pm.”
“We are hoping that more female voters will turn up after lunch time.”
The total number of eligible voters in that centre is 1,920. Up until 12:30pm, around 300 voters have cast their ballots, he added.
Rajib Sheikh, presiding officer of a voting centre at Lalmatia Mohila Degree College, said: “More than 500 ballots have been cast till 3:50pm.”
“We have more than enough election officials present at the centre. However, bringing voters out is not their responsibility; it is the voters' duty to appear at polling centres.”