Why was the voter turnout so low at the city polls?

Why was the voter turnout so low at the city polls?

  • Dhaka Tribune February 28th, 2019

Web_DNCC by-polls

A man casting his ballot in the DNCC by-election Dhaka Tribune/Mahmud Hossain Opu


Authorities concerned said they did not know why the turnout was so poor Thursday

With no strong contestants, flawed campaigning, and a distinct lack of interest among voters led to poor voter turnout at city polling centres on Thursday.  Even some presiding officers were unaware of the polls until they received letters appointing them to act as presiding officers during the polls.

Besides, by-polls in nature, inclement weather and absence of BNP candidates further aggravated the situation.

Authorities concerned said they did not know why the turnout was so poor Thursday.

They said they deployed enough election officers, executive magistrates, and law enforcement officers.

But the majority of the centres saw less than 10% voters. While visiting at least 25 polling centres in the city, the Dhaka Tribune found only two centres that could claim to have more than 10% voters turn out. And in many centres, turnout was as less as 2%.

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Monowar from Katasur said there were several reasons why he was disinterested in voting: “The last election has given me a bitter experience. Besides, when you find that there are no strong candidates, how could you choose who to vote for? It seemed more like a show than an election to me.”

A great number of people living near the polling centres shared his sentiments.

Ehsanul Huq, presiding officer of a centre at Bagbari Primary School said the by-polls had been overshadowed by national and international issues.

He said: “The candidates were not successful in bringing the people to the polling centres. Even I found out about it when I received a letter three days ago.”

Swapan Kumar Mistri, presiding officer at the Begum Nurjahan Memorial Girls’ High School voting centre, said the election campaigning was rather weak and limited in scope, thus leading to an embarrassingly low turnout at the polls

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Kawser Ahmed, presiding officer at one of the four polling centres at Manarat Dhaka International College, attributed the low turnout to the lack of interest among voters and inclement weather.

He observed that a lot of people are not treating the by-polls as important as the national election.

JaPa mayor candidate Shafin Ahmed said voters were disinterested because they had witnessed irregularities in previous elections.

Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda cast his vote and addressed the reporters afterwards, pointing out that the inclement weather, by-polls in nature, and the absence of major political parties are the cause behind poor turnout.

He refused to take responsibilities for poor turnout, and said: “The commission is not responsible for low voter turnout, the political parties must shoulder this responsibility.”