All eyes are on turnout in e-voting as Dhaka-5, Naogaon-6 go to election

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2020-10-17 02:38:50 BdST

The constituents of Dhaka-5 and Naogaon-6 seats will cast their ballots on Saturday to pick their representatives in parliament in a by-election expected to be closely watched for the turnout.

Voting will continue through electronic voting machines or EVMs from 9am to 5pm pursuant to the health rules amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Though the major political groups are contesting in the by-election, there has not been any festivity nor have there been reports of major violence.  

Only 5 percent of voters showed up in the Dhaka-10 by-election in which EVMs were used in March after the first coronavirus cases were detected in the country.

“Negative campaigns” and worries prevented the voters from visiting the polling centres, said CEC KM Nurul Huda. He expects more voters to show up this time.

“More people will come to vote if the competition is intense.”

The Election Commission has clamped restrictions on vehicular movement in the constituencies.

Motorcycles will not be allowed in the constituency for three days from 12am on Friday.

The movement of trucks and pickups has also been banned for 24 hours from 12am on Saturday.

Each vote booth will be equipped with one EVM and technical experts. Additional EVMs will be available in case of any technical glitches, said the returning officers.

All voting equipment including the EVM were expected to reach the 187 centres in Dhaka and 104 in Naogaon by Friday evening.

Dhaka-5 consists of Demra, Jatrabari and parts of Kadamtali, and has 471,129 voters.  

The candidates are the Awami League’s Kazi Monirul Islam, BNP leader Salahuddin Ahmed, the Jatiya Party's Mir Abdus Sabur, Arifur Rahman of National People's Party and Ansar Rahman Sikder from Bangladesh Congress. The seat became vacant following the death of Habibur Rahman Molla.

Naogaon-6 has Raninagar and Atrai Upazilas with 306,725 voters.

The candidates are Sheikh Md Rezaul Islam of the Awami League, Md Anwar Hossain Helal of the BNP and Khandaker Intekhab Alam of the NPP. The seat was vacated by the death of Israfil Alam.

The candidates in the by-polls have completed their campaigns, said GM Sahtab Uddin, returning officer for Dhaka 5.

“Presiding officers and law-enforcement agencies will be present when voting equipment reach the centres on Friday," he told bdnews24.com.

There will be safety gears for all, including the voters. "We'll put up banners outside stating the health rules," Sahtab Uddin said.

Any complaint by the candidates will be looked into instantly, the returning officer said.

They have prepared for the by-poll in line with health protocols, said Mahmud Hasan, the returning officer for Naogaon 6. Law-enforcing agencies have been deployed, he said.