Officials report good turnout in 'peaceful' Narayanganj city polls

Voters have been turning up at polling centres in good numbers to cast ballots Narayanganj city election amid a festive and peaceful atmosphere, according to Returning Officer Mahfuza Akhter.

Voting at 192 polling stations began at 8 am Sunday and will continue without any interruption until 4pm.

As the day wore on, the queues outside the centres grew longer. There were a significant number of women voters lined up as well.

For the first time, electronic voting machines (EVMs) are being used at every polling centre across Narayanganj to serve the city’s 525,000 registered voters.

And, in some areas, people lined up to cast their ballots even before the polls opened.

Most people are satisfied with the use of EVMs. However, some of the older voters had more difficulty with the new system.

After visiting several polling centres and speaking to election officials, Mahfuza said, “We saw a good number of ballots cast in the first four hours. The voter turnout is also very good.”

The official, however, did not want to draw any conclusion on reports of a slow pace of voting.

“Some centres had a slower pace of voting in the morning, while machines had technical glitches in other places. But the technical support team fixed it quickly. The election atmosphere is festive and peaceful,” she said.

The returning officer was also hopeful that a good turnout would be maintained throughout the day.

In 2011, the voter turnout was 69 percent in Narayanganj City Corporation election, up from 62.33 percent in 2016.

This time, voters will decide whether to let Salina Hayat Ivy continue as mayor of the city corporation for another term, or replace her with main contender Taimur Alam Khandaker.

Awami League candidate Ivy cast her vote at the Shishubag School centre.

The centre has five voting booths for women and five for men. The polling centres occupy the first and second floors of the three-storey building.

Voters were lined up outside before polls opened. Ivy, who has served Narayanganj as mayor for the past 10 years, came to observe the turnout at the start of the day.

Stores in the area were closed and traffic in the area was limited, but voters were allowed to travel to the centre by rickshaw or autorickshaw.

Several elderly voters were seen standing in line and the atmosphere was pleasant.

Voters had also lined up in front of every booth at the Morgan Girls School and College centre around 8:30 am.

The Election Commission set up some model booths at the centre and voters queued up outside those as well. A mobile court was also inspecting the area.

There were relatively few voters at the Islamia Kamil Madrasa centre at 8 am, with about 8-10 lined up outside each booth.

BNP leader and independent candidate for mayor Taimur Alam Khandaker came to cast his ballot at the centre around 8:15 am.

The BNP is boycotting the polls, but Taimur decided to run regardless and was consequently removed from a senior position in the party.

Quite a few voters had gathered at the Adarsha School centre near the Ward-13 Chasara Eidgah Field.

More voters have turned up as the morning fog lifted and the sun peeked out.

“The election is proceeding smoothly so far,” said Shah Zaman, chief of Narayanganj Sadar Police Station. “The polls are peaceful. The turnout is rising over time.”

Voters have to follow health regulations when coming to vote, he said.

He also urged voters to bring their voter slips and National ID cards with them when coming to the centre.

No one will be allowed to enter a polling centre without a mask, he warned.

The Government Mohila College centre in Ward-13 had a significant turnout of women voters compared to men. Taimur Alam Khandaker spoke to the media after an inspection of the centre.

My agents are present at all but one polling centre, he said. So far, the polls have been ‘peaceful and proper’, he said. He then went to inspect the polling centre at the Government Tolaram College.

Seven candidates are running for mayor, 148 for general ward councillor seats and 34 for reserved councillor seats in the third Narayanganj City Corporation election.

The results will be announced from the Returning Officer's Control Room later on Sunday.