Voters in the Rangpur City Corporation polls appeared apprehensive while casting their ballots on Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), despite the Election Commission running a two-day campaign on their use ahead of the vote.
The election was the first time that people falling under the city corporation had been able to vote using the EVM system.
Few of the voters said they were nervous at the beginning after seeing the machine while another group of voters appreciated the initiative taken by the Election Commission to modernize the voting system in Bangladesh.
“It did not take me long to cast my vote but I was a bit nervous after seeing the machine [EVM],” Gulshan Ara told the Bangla Tribune at Begum Rokeya College. “I just had to click the switch beside the symbol I chose to cast the vote for.”
The 42-year-old from ward number 25 said her husband was also nervous while casting the vote using the machine: neither of them had been aware of the EVM and the two-day campaign organized by the commission.
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Gulshan Ara comes to cast her vote at a polling centre in Rangpur Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
However, retired bank official Sultan Ahmed said he was satisfied after casting with the help of EVM as it did not take much time.
The 64-year-old said: “I took training about the EVM from the Election Commission’s campaign team on Wednesday, so I did not face any trouble in casting my vote. I appreciate this voting system.”
The experience was not as straightforward for others, however. Shalban area resident Nadira Begum told the Bangla Tribune that she had to wait in the queue for half an hour.
“When I went to cast my vote, the machines were not working so it took me more time,” she said.
Another voter, Selim Mia, made the same accusation.
However, Presiding Officer Ashraful Islam denied there had been an issue with the EVMs and said some voters had simply failed to use the system properly.
“There is nothing wrong with the machines,” he said. “One has to press three buttons to choose a candidate and those who pressed two faced problems.”
Security measures were ramped up to ensure voters faced no hassle while casting their ballots at the 193 polling centres around the city and could return home safely, election and law enforcement officials said.
The 393,994 registered voters under Rangpur City Corporation could go to the polls between 8am until 4pm on Thursday.
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From left, retired banker Sultan Ahmed and Ruhul Amin, right, share their experiences of casting votes using electronic voting machines (EVM) with the Dhaka Tribune on Friday, December 21, 2017 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
Seven contenders were vying for the mayor post, with the winner set to be decided by a three-way tussle among Sarfuddin Ahmed of Awami League, Md Mostafizur Rahman of Jatiya Party, and Kawsar Jahan Babla of BNP.
In addition, voters were choosing from 211 aspirants for general councillor posts in 33 wards, and from 65 women candidates standing for 11 reserved seat councillor posts.