• Wednesday, Jun 26, 2019
  • Last Update : 12:30 am

Fourth phase upazila polls draws the least voters so far

  • Published at 11:40 pm April 1st, 2019
Web_Upazila polls
File photo of a voter casting ballot during an election in Bangladesh, Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

In the fourth phase, elections however were held in 106 upazilas, where the average turnout was only 36.50%

Voter apathy for the upazila polls continued to demonstrate itself in the fourth phase as citizens showed an even greater unwillingness to show up at the voting booths this time.

Although the turnout remained a little over 40% in the first three phases, it came down below that rate in the fourth phase elections held on March 31, reports the Bangla Tribune.

While the election was scheduled for 122 upazilas in the fourth phase, candidates won unopposed in 15 upazilas.

In the fourth phase, elections however were held in 106 upazilas, where the average turnout was only 36.50%, shows data from Election Commission.

Voting was suspended in all centres in Comilla's Titas upazila following allegations of ballot stuffing.

The turnout was 43.32% in first phase upazila polls held in 111 upazilas on March 10, 41.25% in second phase held in 78 upazilas on March 18, and 41.41% in third phase held in 116 upazilas on March 24.

Only about six million voters exercised their voting rights out of little over 16.5 million voters registered for polls under 106 upazilas in fourth phase.

In the fourth phase, highest 70.82% voting was cast in the Fakirhat upazila in Bagerhat.

According to Election Commission (EC) sources, during the fourth phase of the upazila elections, Sadar upazila in Feni experienced the lowest voter turnout of 13.50% while a 20% turnout has been deemed acceptable and normal by the authorities.

The turnout was below 30% in 14 upazilas during the latest phase.

While election experts have begun to grow concerned over dwindling voter participation and the alarming rise of uncontested winners, the Election Commission seems pleased with itself.

EC Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed, after the second phase, said a free, fair, and peaceful vote is far more important than voter attendance.

He said there are no legal parameters to justify voter turnout, noting that the low voter participation was due to campaigning by political parties to discourage implementation of the voting franchise.

In the fourth phase, ruling Awami League bagged 73 chairman posts including the all 24 uncontested posts. Major parliamentary opposition Jatiya Party secured only one post while independent candidates bagged 32 posts.

Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder on Sunday said the upazila polls were not participatory.

“We need to identify why we have failed to earn the trust of the voters. It is absurd to blame them. The Election Commission needs to scrutinize itself for all the elections we have conducted over the past two years. We need to ensure we never repeat the mistakes of the past,” he said while speaking to the reporters at his office.

He also said parliamentary and local polls should be completely under the control of the Election Commission for the sake of democracy.

Of the 492 upazilas in the country, 480 are scheduled to go to election in five phases this year.